How To Properly Cook Quinoa

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So much more than a fad, quinoa has been a pantry staple in Bolivia for thousands of years. And while it may have taken Westerners a while to catch on, many of us have now fully embraced the ancient grain – and it looks like it is here to stay.

There are so many reasons to love quinoa: It’s a fantastic source of plant-based protein, and it’s a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids; it’s packed with vitamins and minerals; it’s naturally gluten-free – and it tastes great. Moreover, quinoa’s hearty texture lends itself to a variety of purposes: The delicious, nutritious grain can be added to soup, used as a base for a make-ahead salad, or simply served as an alternative to rice or other starchy side.

Despite these and other benefits, however, quinoa still has the ability to make the average at-home chef a bit nervous – mainly because not everyone knows the basic tips that can make quinoa preparation a simple task.

Follow these simple quinoa cooking directions, and you’ll have fluffy, flavorful quinoa in no time – every time:

Rinse it.
In its natural state, quinoa has a coating of saponins (a class of chemical compounds so called for their tendency to foam like soap) and it is this coating that gives the grain its somewhat bitter taste. Quinoa also grows best in sandy soil, which can leave residue on the harvested product. For these reasons, it is important to rinse your quinoa before cooking it – unless you are using the Ancient Harvest brand, as all of our quinoa has already been pre-washed for you!

Toast it.
This step may seem superfluous – but quickly toasting your quinoa will add an immense amount of flavor to the final result. While you may toast the grain in a small amount of oil, this can actually create a bitter taste. Instead, we recommend dry toasting (without any oil) your quinoa until it begins to turn golden brown and smell nutty (about 4-5 minutes.)

Cook it.
The ratio to remember when cooking quinoa is 2:1 (2 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa.) Combine the two and bring it all to a boil. Then, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Let it rest.
Once your quinoa is cooked, turn off the burner and let it rest for a few minutes. This will give it time to soak up any remaining liquid, and also allow the grain to firm up (so that it doesn’t become mushy.)

Fluff it.
After the quinoa has had a chance to regain its firm texture, stir it with a fork to separate the grains.

Now, it’s time to season and eat!

For more information on quinoa, visit AncientHarvest.com. Also be sure to follow us here on our new Ancient Harvest blog, as we will be regularly posting on nutritional information, industry news, and recipe inspiration.

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