How To: Basic Quinoa

IMG_0003 Over time, there are some things that eventually become part of your life, even if they never made an appearance in it before.

My children, high heels, heirloom tomatoes and kale, my MacBook-all these things that were previously absent from my life, but now are permanent fixtures.  I could easily add quinoa to that list.  Though not a food that I have a long history with, it has become a staple in my kitchen.  Quinoa just kind of showed up, said all the right things, did all the right things…wooed me a bit, and I let it stay.  And believe you me, that is not always the case.  Lentils for example.  They came, I ate them, I cursed them, and they left.  I don’t care what anyone says.  Lentils taste like dirt.

But back to quinoa.  Oh! wonderful quinoa.  All that nutrition stuff they talk about is true, so just trust me: its good for you.  Like, crazy good for you.  While I tend to veer in the opposite direction of food trends, i.e. bloggers putting nutella on everything, the fact that quinoa has gotten so popular is just good sense!  Finally!  Something caught on that wasn’t ridiculous!  Some of the reasons why I am so fond of quinoa are (and these are in no particular order) it cooks faster than brown rice, the flavor is mild and kind of nutty and nice, its fluffy like pasta but its gluten free, and it is really versatile.  I add plain cooked quinoa to my Sloppy Joes and soon, I am going to try it in my granola.  Yup.  Quinoa for breakfast.  It’s everywhere, man.
IMG_0126 This is what I make when I just need basic quinoa.  Nothing fancy, nothing involved, just plain.  Something I can serve with fish or seafood and have leftovers to do with as I please.  My kids love it stirred into scrambled eggs where its chewiness gives fantastic texture.  I have tried using the package directions, but it always comes out kind of wet.  My version uses less liquid, but steams it for a bit at the end.  It is much more fluffy than regular methods and is easier to add to other recipes, like the sloppy joes or scrambled eggs I mentioned above.  So after some trial and error, this is now what I stick to.  It has never failed me.  Unlike lentils.

So lets get started.

One Year Ago: Freezer Fajitas 
Two Years Ago: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Mexican Rice W/Black Beans, Pasta W/Zesty Bolognese

Basic Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)
I like the Bob’s Red Mill brand.  It is organic and I get exactly two batches out of a bag.  In turn, I sometimes get two or three different meals out of a batch.  We eat it as a side dish, add some leftovers to eggs for breakfast, and maybe stir some into muffins or pancakes.  Once cooled, it freezes great!  Just make sure it is sealed well and it will last for a month or two.

2 c quinoa, white or red or a mix of both
3 c liquid (all water or all chicken or veggie broth or a 50/50 mix)
pinch of salt

Start by rinsing the quinoa.  Some people say this isn’t necessary due to the fact that almost all varieties of quinoa come pre-rinsed now.  But quinoa has a natural coating on it that makes it bitter-blegh-and since it is easily rinsed off, I err on the side of caution and just always rinse.  Years ago, I made quinoa and didn’t rinse it and it was so ishy I had to throw it out.  So, safety first.  Rinse the quinoa.  Just measure it into a fine mesh sieve and rinse well with cold water.  No biggy.
IMG_9953 Dump it into a medium sauce pan that has a lid.
IMG_0127 Add your liquid and put over medium high heat.
IMG_0134 Bring it up to a low boil, stirring occasionally.  Once it is boiling lower the heat and reduce it to a simmer.  Cover with a lid, cracking it to vent just a bit.  This keeps it from bubbling over.
IMG_0140 Set your timer for 10 minutes, stirring after five.  This gives the quinoa about 15 total minutes of cooking.  Once the 10 minutes are up, it should be almost dry.  Remove it from the heat, snuggle the lid on tight, and let it steam until you are ready for it.  At least five minutes, or as much as twenty.
IMG_0156 Beautiful!  Stir and fluff and eat!  Remember, this is just plain.  A little salt and pepper and it is lovely with fish or roasted meats.  Now is the time to toss it with roasted veggies, parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, whatever you like!
IMG_0011 Enjoy!