How to Cook Quinoa

You may remember quinoa (pronounce “keen-wah”) from my adventures with Gluten-Free Quinoa Veggie Burgers, or my (top post on the blog!) Thai Red Curry Quinoa.

If you haven’t been officially introduced yet, let me do the honours: quinoa is a high-protein ancient grain from the Andes mountains in South America.  It comes in “regular” (white/ivory), red, and black.  I often mix red and white quinoa because it looks so pretty!  The quinoa I currently have on hand is red; I can’t tell the difference in colour by taste, so it comes down to an aesthetic preference here.


Because quinoa is high in protein, it comes out healthfully low on the glycemic index (unusual for a grain!), and doesn’t spike your blood sugars.

How to Cook Quinoa

1 cup of uncooked quinoa makes about 2.5-3 cups cooked, enough for 4 servings

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups veggie stock or water

Rinse quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve to remove the bitter outer coating (saponin) that may be coating the grains.

Place quinoa and stock (or water) in a pot, and bring to a boil.

Turn off the heat once the water is boiling, but leave the pot of quinoa on the warm element.  Leave it there for 15 minutes, or until the germ (looks like a little tail) separates from the seed.  Once cooked, the water should be completely evaporated and the quinoa should be al dente.  (If not, you can bring it back up on the heat for a little bit more of a boil until it’s done.)

Give it a fluff with a fork, and voila — you have quinoa ready to go!

So what do you do with cooked quinoa? Well, you can:

  1. Turn it into a quinoa salad (pssst… check out tomorrow’s post for a quinoa salad recipe).
  2. Eat it as a side dish, as you would any other grain (like a substitute for brown rice).
  3. Have it as the base under a curry — it would be great with Kale and Lentil Dal or Red Kidney Bean Curry (Rajma).
  4. Make an awesome tabouleh using quinoa instead of bulghur (mix with tomatoes, parsley, and lemon!).  When I put a call out on twitter asking what people did with their cooked quinoa, the folks at Frida Restaurant here in Toronto (@FridaRestaurant) mentioned they “like it as a tabouleh type salad with tons of fresh veggies and a lemony tahini dressing.”  Yum.  Must try that out!
  5. Add some milk & heat through for a quinoa porridge, great with cinnamon and fruit — or you could use it in place of barley for a Coconut Chai Porridge.
  6. Use it instead of couscous or other grains in your favourite recipes.
  7. Just eat it.  Yum.

Tags: , ,

Categories: Gluten-Free, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian


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12 Comments on “How to Cook Quinoa”

  1. Bev Lins
    July 22, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    I LOVE quinoa! One of the ways that I really enjoy it is to make a marinara sauce and put it over the quinoa in place of spaghetti. It is really delicious!

  2. July 22, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    Ohhhh, that sounds gorgeous!!! I haven’t tried it that way yet, and seeing as I love anything with tomato sauce, this is a great plan!

    Thanks for the idea! 😀


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