Start to Finish: 20 minutesServings: 2 to 4Difficulty: Beginner
Often referred to as a superfood, quinoa is an ancient grain from South America that has become a widespread cereal grain alternative. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain and very versatile, able to be used in salads, baking and stir-fry dishes. One struggle quinoa eaters have faced in the past is bitterness caused by saponins (a chemical compound on the husk), but as quinoa has become more readily available, the saponins are usually rinsed off pre-purchase, so you are almost always assured of having healthy, versatile, and delicious quinoa.
- Rinse quinoa briefly in cold water. This removes any lingering saponins and insures your quinoa is clean.
- Add 1 cup of quinoa to the rice cooker.
- Pour in 2 1/4 cups water into the rice cooker.
- Switch the rice cooker to a white rice setting and let the quinoa cook. Rice cookers tend to take about fifteen minutes for white rice, resulting in fluffy, delicious quinoa.
- Remove the quinoa from the rice cooker and fluff with a fork before serving.
If you live at a higher elevation, add 1/4 cup water and 5 minutes' cooking time to insure fluffy, not crunchy, quinoa.
Flavor Variations & Additions
Quinoa itself comes in three main types: red, black and white; white is the most readily available. All three cook and taste the same, so the use is in aesthetic appeal -- for instance, you can make a colorful salad by adding red quinoa to a bowl of kale and blueberries.
If you want to serve quinoa on its own, letting the dish stand out rather than mix with other ingredients, add herbs or spices for extra flavor. You can mix the herbs in after the quinoa is cooking or add them to the water in the rice cooker for a stronger taste and aroma.
You can toss the cooked quinoa in oils or vinegars such as plain or flavored balsamic vinegar or sesame oil for a tasty twist. You can also add oil to the water before cooking the quinoa to give it extra flavor or use a chicken or beef broth instead of water to amp up the taste. While the taste of broths or oils in the water won't be as strong with a rice cooker as on a stove-top, you can still enhance the flavor of the quinoa by significant amounts.
Quinoa is incredibly versatile, able to be used in a variety of dishes. Toss quinoa with cooked veggies for a stir-fry, or mix with raw vegetables and/or fruit for a quinoa salad. You can use it to make breakfast bars, muffins, cookies and cakes for a nutrition-packed treat. Whip up tabouleh, a Mediterranean side dish using quinoa as your base, or add it to chili as a protein-rich thickener. Quinoa even works as a stuffing for stuffed mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes.