You would think that pronouncing quinoa would be the toughest challenge when preparing this South American staple. It is pronounced keen-wah. It will take more time to say it correctly than it will to make it correctly, if you follow these simple rules. Remember, all cooking challenges are solved if tried and true directions are followed.
Most people, when they look at a box or bag of quinoa, usually ask, what is this? Since It doesn’t look like any pasta, rice or grain they have ever included in their recipes, they are often stumped. The first mistake is to cook it like a grain. Although it is a seed taken from a grain it needs to be treated differently. It comes from a plant that is a not so distant relative of the beet. That may not be completely helpful since most people don’t know how to cook beets, so that is not necessarily a starting point.
Most cooks don’t think about rinsing rice or grains, from bag to pot is the most common cooking method.This is not true of quinoa, at least not if you want to enjoy your meal. This tiny little seed comes with a coating that is very bitter. A cursory rinse will not do the job. Rinse thoroughly and when you think you have done it enough, do it again. Needless to say, your normal pasta strainer will prove to be useless since these seeds will find their way through any opening and will become part of your kitchen’s drainage system.
Pasta and rice have always suffered in the kitchen. Almost all attempts lead to over cooking and quinoa is no exception. You want your quinoa to be tender but not soft. This is pretty simple because no higher math is involved. In your most comfortable 1 1/2 quart cooking pan, add one cup of quinoa with two cups of water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for between 10 – 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. The seed will appear tender and have a translucent quality. You should also see a germ ring around the edge of the seed.
Another mistake is not to drain it. Just because it looks like it absorbed all the water and it passed the above tests doesn’t mean there is not water in the pan. Drain it. If you skip this step, your dish will be soupy and watery. This is the quickest way to ruin a dinner
And the last step requires planning and patience, not commodities that are in full abundance in our hectic world. Let it sit. After you drain the quinoa, place it back on the stove and let it sit for 15 minutes. Don’t stir it, don’t add anything to it, just let it sit.
So from start to finish, plan on about 30 minutes and you will have a tasty healthy dish of quinoa.