Sunset Test Kitchen manager Angela Brassinga shares tips for the best way to cook quinoa


Quinoa is high in fiber and it’s also a great vegetarian source of complete protein. You can eat it hot or cold, and it’s perfect for feeding guests. The seed is naturally gluten-free and it works great as a substitute for pasta, rice, and other grains. Quinoa has a slight nutty flavor, but it lends well to the sauces and herbs of just about any dish. You can even whip up the superfood for breakfast in place of oatmeal once you know how to make quinoa.

Always start with well-rinsed quinoa. Some brands have pre-rinsed the quinoa before packaging, so be sure to always read the directions. It’s important to rinse the quinoa thoroughly before cooking to remove it’s natural saponin coating, which can make the cooked seed taste soapy or bitter. Saponin can also irritate the stomach and make quinoa more difficult to digest. A fine strainer and running water works great.

To cook quinoa, heat olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add any spices you’d like before adding the quinoa and toasting it. Stir often until it starts to turn golden brown in spots, about 4-6 minutes. Stir in the water, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. You can also use vegetable or chicken broth for added flavor. No need to stir the quinoa while it cooks.

You’ll know your quinoa is done when you see white rings or tails around the small seeds. Turn off the heat and keep the pan covered for five minutes to let the quinoa absorb the rest of the water and cool slightly. Fluff the quinoa with a fork before serving it hot or spooning it onto a plate to cool for a salad.

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