When it comes to cooking quinoa, sometimes people struggle to get it just right. As easy as it is, the struggle is real, and I truly believe there are a few tricks that will help you make quinoa perfect every time!
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DIFFERENT COLORED QUINOAS?
Typically, white, red, and black quinoa are readily available at most grocery stores. Even tri-colored quinoa seems to be making an appearance on the grocery shelves as well. Believe it or not, there are 120 known varieties of quinoa, according to the Whole Grains Council. But what’s the difference between the different colors and varieties?
White quinoa, for instance, is the most common quinoa. Tan in color, this quinoa is usually used to replace rice in dishes. Gluten-free and a 100% complete protein, quinoa have a nutty flavor and lighter texture. Similar to rice, white quinoa tastes somewhat neutral, ad most people prefer to cook with white quinoa.
Despite being mistaken as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed, when cooked takes on the shape of couscous.
However, my favorite quinoa by far is red quinoa, which is bold, colorful and earthy in flavor. I absolutely love the vibrant color in salads and bowls next to vegetables.
Black quinoa, on the other hand, is much like red quinoa in its texture and bolder flavor. Again, black quinoa is beautiful in a salad or bowl and brings an added pop of color.
Tricolor quinoa, another beautiful and colorful seed, brings a variety of quinoa together in one bag.
WHAT KIND OF QUINOA IS THE BEST TO COOK?
Whatever color quinoa you choose, is based on individual taste. As I said before, I love the vibrant red quinoa, as well as the black and tri-color quinoas. Because I prefer a bolder, nuttier taste, these quinoas not only bring life and color to my food, they taste better to my palate. If you prefer a more mild, neutral taste, always opt for the white quinoa.
The first time I ever cooked quinoa, I followed the directions on the bag, and it was an epic fail. Consequently, I burned the bottom of the quinoa, and the rest was edible, but not great. Of course, I thought I just didn’t like quinoa, but I was wrong. Similar to my first experience with tofu, I simply wasn’t cooking the quinoa correctly. And despite my efforts of trying to cook it right, I finally figured it out by successfully failing.
Regardless of the color or type of quinoa, I have found one way to cook it where it comes out perfect, each and every time.
WHY SHOULD QUINOA BE RINSED BEFORE COOKING?
In the past, quinoa was coated with a bitter-tasting compound that needed to be washed. Some people, for example, say it tastes soapy. But, today’s quinoa does not require rinsing. As a rule, though, I still rinse my quinoa in a mesh strainer to remove any debris that may be in the bag. Also, I cook with organic quinoa to avoid any pesticides as well.
WHAT IS THE SECRET TO PERFECTLY COOKED QUINOA?
First, as mentioned previously, I always rinse my quinoa in a mesh strainer . Then, you want to make sure to add the quinoa and COLD water to the pan BEFORE you begin cooking. Once the quinoa and cold water are combined it the pan, add a little salt and stir. Next, bring the quinoa and cold water to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to simmer, and cover for 15 minutes.
When the timer hits 15 minutes, remove the covered pan from the burner. and leave it to sit for at least 5 minutes. Then, remove the cover and fluff with a fork.
If you plan to use the quinoa immediately, use it then. If not, wait until it cools completely and add to a covered container for the refrigerator.
SAVE TIME AND MEAL PREP IN ADVANCE BY MAKING QUINOA FOR THE WEEK
Since I am all about saving time, I always make a batch of quinoa, base don the meals I plan to make during the week. For example, if I am making my Quinoa Greek Salad with OMG Oil-Free Dressing and Roasted Cauliflower Salad, I plan to make enough quinoa, in advance, to have the quinoa on demand.
WHAT OTHER RECIPES ARE QUINOA FRIENDLY?
Not only is quinoa great in a salad, but it also works interchangeably with rice. In fact, any dish calling for rice can be replaced with quinoa. Some ideas you may enjoy are:
- Kale and Quinoa Southwestern Salad with Cumin Citrus Dressing
- Southwest Chickpea Quinoa Salad
- Harvest Quinoa Salad with Smokey Maple Dijon Dressing
- Skinny Thai Green Curry