If you are into eating healthily, eating clean or have done any research into the two then you can’t have failed to read about quinoa. The super grain is full of protein, is very filling and has a higher nutritional value than brown rice. Where’s the but? But it is a bit of a pain to cook! When I first started eating quinoa (which I then discovered wasn’t called kin-o-ah but keen-wah) I almost gave up first time as it turned into one big mushy mess and nowhere near the fluffy grains I had seen others prepare! But I did some research, I experimented and by trial and a lot of error this is my foolproof method to cooking perfect quinoa.
1. Don’t rinse it. Although some people say you need to rinse it to get rid of the bitter taste I’ve found it just causes it to become waterlogged and (even with step 2 and 9) stodgy.
2. Add a small amount of your oil of choice to a heavy bottom pan. I use half a teaspoon of coconut oil. Add your quinoa grains to the hot oil and toast. This is the crucial step to perfect quinoa! Move the grains around in the oil until they start to turn golden and you hear them start to pop. A bit like microwave popcorn but a lot quieter! Keep the heat low to medium, if you rush it you will scorch the quinoa and they will go bitter. Ick.
3. Using water from a fairly recently boiled kettle (not boiling and I do let it cool a bit/top up with cool otherwise when it hits the pan it goes berserk). Pour on top of the now golden quinoa and top up to about 0.5cm above the level of the grains – you may need to add a layer of water, let the bubbles calm down and then continue to add more.
4. Gently stir the quinoa so that the water covers everything and nothing is sticking to the pan.
5. Turn the heat down so your water is simmering and put a lid on your pot.
6. I think this is the second crucial step. After about ten minutes check to see how it’s doing. If the water is totally absorbed but you can still see raw/un-swollen/un-popped quinoa then top up very slightly – a small puddle into the middle of the pan – about 2 tablespoons.
7. Gently move the quinoa to disperse the water around the pan.
8. Replace the lid but don’t go too far away. After another few minutes check again and if the raw grains have all disappeared remove the lid to let excess moisture evaporate more quickly.
9. The grains should be separating naturally now as they get rid of their excess moisture. At this time I start to gently stir them around whilst they are still on the heat in order to really dry them out/remove the moisture.
10. Keep stirring and make sure the grains don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Then once any hint of moisture has gone turn off the heat and fluff with a fork. Leave to cool and then you’re sorted, divide into containers and enjoy throughout the week!
Bonus tip – I have found that even if I have over-added water it is salvageable if you remove the lid sooner and continue step 9 for a bit longer!
Hope this helps!