What is quinoa? Quinoa is a tiny seed high in protein and lower in carbohydrates than most cereal grains. When cooked, it has a light, mild, and fluffy texture with a slight nutty flavor. Because Quinoa is gluten-free, it can be used as an alternative in meals and recipes that call for pasta, rice or any other starchy food. Just add your favorite vegetables, meats or seasonings and enjoy.
How to Cook Quinoa in a Rice Cooker
If you have a rice cooker at home, then go ahead and use it! To add a little extra flavor to quinoa while cooking, try replacing the water with homemade chicken broth or vegetable broth. Here’s how to do it:
Simple Rice Cooker Instructions:
- Combine one cup of quinoa with two cups water in a rice cooker. Cook for around 15 minutes, let sit 3 minutes, and serve.
I’ve also added a different herbs and spices to my rice cooker with fantastic results. A few chili pepper flakes, fresh basil leaves, or a half teaspoon of cumin can really spice things up!
How to Cook Quinoa
It takes only 15 minutes to cook a family portion of this wonder food, so try it in place of rice, pasta, or in recipes calling for some kind of carbohydrate. For extra flavor (and a little fun) try replacing the water with homemade chicken broth or vegetable broth.
Cooking quinoa on your stovetop:
- For every cup of quinoa, bring two cups of water to a boil (just like rice). Use 1.5 cups water if you prefer a more al dente texture.
- Cover when boiling and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the seeds turn fluffy. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl. See right-side photograph above comparing cooked quinoa to uncooked quinoa.
- Let stand for about 3 minutes to become fully fluffy.
Note: Check if your quinoa has a saponin coating. If it has a waxy coating then the first step is to soak it in water for 2 hours. Change the water and then resoak for another hour. Vigorously rinse under running water in a fine strainer or cheese cloth to remove the final traces of saponin. Most quinoa bought in boxes or in bulk stores comes pre-rinsed without this coating — just like in the photograph above, left side.
A little more about Quinoa
Quinoa is considered a complete protein because it contains all eight essential amino acids, it is naturally gluten free (unlike wheat) so it can be eaten by those with Celiac disease, and it’s easy to prepare. Quinoa is also a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, and is high in magnesium and iron.
In its natural state, quinoa has a waxy coating of bitter-tasting saponins, making it terribly untasty. However, most organic quinoa sold in North America is processed to remove this coating through a rinsing process.
Where to buy Quinoa
Quinoa can be purchased in grocery stores across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Depending on where you live, you may have to find this sensational seed in a specialty or organic food store.
Frugal places to buy quinoa:
There are many recipes on this blog that include quinoa, but I also like the book The New Whole Grain Cookbook since it explains how to use ancient grains like farro, brown rice, barley, and a multitude of others as well.
Here’s a quick list of quinoa recipes on this site:
- 1 Organic Chicken, 22 Healthy Meals, $49 Bucks
- Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes
- 10 Fantastic Frugalicious Foods
- Eating Quinoa for Breakfast
Your Turn: How do you cook quinoa?