Here is the Right Way to Cook Quinoa

Easy Quinoa Recipe
Quinoa is easy to make. Photo © Danilo Alfaro
  • 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Quinoa is a light, fluffy not-quite grain with a slight nutty flavor. High in protein, quinoa (pronounced "KEEN-wah") is delicious served with chicken or fish, or anywhere else you might serve rice or couscous.

I say "not-quite grain" because quinoa actually is a seed, not a cereal grain like wheat or rice.

Because it's a seed, it has more of a crackly bite to it than rice or couscous.

Quinoa comes in various colors, but the most common are white, red and black. I like to use a blend of all three called "rainbow quinoa." The white type is fluffy, the red has a nice nutty flavor, and the black is extra crunchy. So the rainbow blend gives you a nice combination of flavors, textures and colors. This recipe calls for half red quinoa and half plain quinoa, or you can use a cup of rainbow quinoa. 

One last thing: quinoa should be rinsed thoroughly before cooking it, or it could have a bitter flavor. Oddly enough, this is also because it's a seed. The bitterness is caused by a substance on the outside of the seeds which is thought to be intended as a deterrent against birds.

As a rule, manufacturers rinse the quinoa already, but just as it's always a good idea to sort your dried beans and lentils to make sure there aren't any pebbles mixed in, it can't hurt to rinse your quinoa. Simply run cool water over the uncooked quinoa in a mesh strainer while whirling the quinoa around with your fingers. The water might look slightly cloudy at first, but after a minute it'll run clear and the quinoa is ready to cook. 

What You'll Need

  • ½ cup plain (white) quinoa
  • ½ cup red quinoa
  • 1½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp finely minced onion
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Kosher salt, to taste

How to Make It

  1. Rinse the uncooked quinoa in a mesh strainer under cold water for a minute.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat then add the minced onion and cook for a few minutes or until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the stock, salt to taste and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in the quinoa and lower heat to a very low simmer.
  4. Cover tightly and cook for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. The tiny germ will uncoil from the quinoa seed when it is fully cooked.
  1. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for five minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve right away.
Makes four side-dish portions.