Quinoa has become one of the most versatile kitchen staples, but do you know how to cook it properly? Nutrition Expert Cara Harbstreet shares her secrets for making your fluffiest, tastiest quinoa for your next meal.
By now, it’s no secret that quinoa is kind of nutritiously awesome. It tastes great, it’s versatile, and telling people you eat it makes you sound like you care about your health. So if you’re not sold on it yet, it might never happen. If you already love it, you don’t need more convincing. But even with quinoa popping up more often, there are a lot of questions about cooking it at home.
Let’s answer a few of your most pressing questions:
How much water do I need?
Use a 2:1 ratio of water to uncooked quinoa. This means one cup of uncooked quinoa will end up as about 3 cups total volume, which is helpful if you’re doing any kind of meal prepping or batch cooking for multiple recipes.
Why isn’t my quinoa fluffy?
This is the hardest thing for me to NOT do, but DO NOT STIR! Just like rice, quinoa needs time to sit and simmer. I love to compulsively stir things so I really struggle. Once you reduce the heat on your burner, add the lid, set a timer, and just walk away. Allowing it to sit, covered, for a few minutes after removing from heat also helps. Then, fluff away and enjoy.
Why is my quinoa bitter?
Quinoa is actually a seed, and therefore has an outer coating that offers natural protection. This coating is a type of saponin, a phytochemical that can taste bitter or soapy. Thoroughly rinsing quinoa before cooking helps remove it. Use a fine mesh strainer: the holes in a colander are too large and you may end of wasting some of your quinoa. This step is especially important if you purchase your quinoa from the bulk section of your grocery store. However, if you buy a pre-packaged or pre-rinsed brand, you can skip it.
Or the opposite problem, why is my quinoa so bland?
White quinoa is naturally very mild in flavor, and while the red or black varieties might taste slightly more robust or earthy, they’re also pretty mild. Try cooking your quinoa in a low-sodium stock or broth, adding a small amount of salt, or adding fresh or dried herbs during cooking to impart more flavor.
Can I cook it in my rice cooker?
Heck yes! I’m all about kitchen hacks to make life easy. Rice cookers are a great idea and if you have a pressure cooker, they work well too. Use the same 2:1 liquid to quinoa ratio and adjust the cooking times based on your appliance’s instructions.
For an easy dinner, check out this delicious quinoa salad recipe!
Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD is a Kansas City-based Registered Dietitian helping individuals jumpstart their journey to wellness. By breaking the cycle of dieting, Cara focuses on creating sustainable lifestyle changes for people who are motivated to reclaim their health. Connect with Cara over at Street Smart Nutrition.