Boiled quinoa is a nutritious and delicious alternative to popular carb-based sides, such as pasta, rice or couscous. To make it tempt your tastebuds with even more flavor, you can also cook quinoa in chicken stock or or boil it up in tasty quinoa chicken broth recipes.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) — who declared 2013 the "International Year of Quinoa" — the whole grain was originally one of the main foods of the ancient Andean people. Traditionally, quinoa grains were roasted and then ground into flour to make bread. Quinoa was also used as a cereal and even fermented into beer or chicha, the traditional drink of the Andes.
These days, cooks tend to demand quicker and easier quinoa dishes. For example you might throw in some quinoa with chicken broth and vegetables, team it with chicken or fish or use it in simple quinoa salad recipes. But first it helps to know how to cook quinoa perfectly.
Read more: Can you Eat Quinoa on a Low-Carb Diet?
How to Boil Quinoa
A simple trick to make quinoa a more flavor-intense side dish is to use chicken broth or stock rather than water as the cooking fluid. This also works well for quinoa that's subsequently chilled and used in quinoa salad recipes. Here are the steps that the Whole Grains Council recommend for boiling perfect quinoa every time, whatever liquid you use:
- Rinse: Quinoa can have remnants of of bitter-tasting saponins (natural chemicals that act as a natural pesticide for the crop) so it's best to give it a good swill before using.
- Measure: One cup of quinoa to 2 cups of fluid, such as chicken broth or stock, are the proportions that work (look for low or no sodium stock to be healthier.) This will make 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
- Bring to boil: The simmering time for quinoa in a lidded pan is 12 to 15 minutes, by which time the water should be fully absorbed and the quinoa light and fluffy. A sign it's done is when you see a little white tail — the germ of the kernel — sticking out of each grain.
- Leftovers? These will work as a treat in quinoa salad recipes — just toss with chopped veggies and your favorite dressing. Or for a hearty lunch, serve a few leftover tablespoons of cooked quinoa with chicken broth and vegetables.
Quinoa Chicken Broth Recipes
Adding quinoa to soup is a delicious alternative way to serve the grain. As well as the quinoa with chicken broth and vegetables option (for this simply stir 1 tablespoon of leftover quinoa per person into any favorite chicken broth), you could use the grain in this delicious chicken and dumpling soup with quinoa recipe (practically a main meal), or opt for this lemon and dill quinoa chicken soup, which is lighter and filled with lots of vegetable goodness.
Quinoa chicken broth recipes can of course be adapted for non-meat eaters. To make it part of a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet, swap the chicken base for one made with vegetable bouillon, and use only plant-based ingredients.
Whichever way you experiment with quinoa, it will add some good nutrition to your diet. According to the USDA, a cup of cooked quinoa provides 8.1 grams of protein, which is the same amount as in a large (65 gram) boiled egg.
USDA figures also show cooked quinoa is a useful source of important minerals, with 118 milligrams of magnesium, 318 milligrams of potassium, 2.8 milligrams of iron and 2 milligrams of zinc.