A pseudograin, quinoa is actually the seed of a plant closely related to spinach, beets and chard. It comes in a variety of colors, ranging from orange to black, purple, pink and white, but red and transparent yellow are the two most widely available varieties. Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It’s rich in magnesium and manganese, and also contains significant levels of dietary fiber, calcium, phosphorous, iron and vitamins E and B-2. Because it’s wheat and gluten-free, quinoa is an ideal choice for those with a gluten allergy or intolerance.
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Measure the amount of red quinoa you’d like to cook. Pour the seeds into a fine-mesh strainer and thoroughly rinse them under cold running water, lightly rubbing the seeds with your fingers.
Taste a seed once you’ve finished rinsing them. If it has a bitter taste, continue rinsing them until any bitterness is gone.
Measure your cooking liquid, which is twice the grain measurement. For example, 1 cup of quinoa requires 2 cups of liquid. You can use plain water or, for added flavor, vegetable, chicken or beef stock.
Place the rinsed quinoa and the liquid together in a saucepan large enough to accommodate the amount you’re making. Much like rice, quinoa expands as it absorbs the liquid. A 1-1/2 quart saucepan is ample enough to cook a cup of quinoa.
Set the saucepan over medium heat. Stir the quinoa a couple of times as the water comes to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer. Stir the contents once or twice before covering the pan.
Cook the seeds until they absorb all the liquid, or about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When red quinoa is done cooking, it looks soft, and the germ ring along the outside edge of the seed becomes visible and separates slightly.
Serve immediately or allow the quinoa to cool before storing it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. It should keep for up to five days.
- The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods; Michael Murray, N.D., et al.; 2005
- The New York Times: Recipes for Health: Quinoa