Sign up for the Random.cooking newsletter

* indicates required

facebook logo


What is quinoa?

Quinoa is a grain crop that is grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a species of the goosefoot genus, Chenopodium. Quinoa is a highly nutritious food, and is considered a "superfood" due to its high protein content, and the fact that it contains all of the essential amino acids. The seeds are also gluten-free, making it a good option for people with gluten sensitivities. Additionally, quinoa is a good source of fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. It can be cooked and eaten as a savory or sweet dish.

cooking with quinoa

Are there different varieties of quinoa?

Yes, there are several different varieties of quinoa. The most common varieties include white, red, and black quinoa. White quinoa is the most widely available and has a delicate, mild flavor. It is also the least likely to become mushy when cooked. Red quinoa has a nuttier flavor and a slightly chewier texture than white quinoa. It also holds its shape better when cooked. Black quinoa is a bit sweeter than the other varieties and has a slightly crunchier texture. It is considered a bit rarer than the other varieties but some specific places you can find it.

Each variety has its own unique characteristics, and they can be used interchangeably in most recipes.

Additionally, Quinoa also come in different sub-variety such as "Real quinoa" which is grown in Andean region, "Wild Quinoa" (Chenopodium quinoa willd.) which is found in some parts of South America.

How do you cook quinoa?

Cooking quinoa is very easy and straightforward. Here’s a basic recipe for cooking quinoa on the stovetop:

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. This is an important step as it removes the natural coating called saponin which can make quinoa taste bitter.
  2. Add the rinsed quinoa to a pot with a tight-fitting lid.
  3. Add the water or broth of your choice, in the ratio of 2 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
  5. Once the liquid has come to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with the lid.
  6. Simmer the quinoa for 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
  7. Remove from heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before fluffing it with a fork.

You can also cook quinoa in a rice cooker, using the same 2:1 liquid to quinoa ratio, just be sure to rinse the quinoa first. Additionally, you can cook Quinoa in Instant pot or pressure cooker as well.

Note that the cooking time might vary depending on the variety you are using and the altitude. Experiment a bit with the cooking time and liquid-to-quinoa ratio until you find a method that works best for you.

You can season it according to your taste with herbs, spices, salt, and pepper or add veggies, protein, and other flavors to make it a complete meal.

What are some good dishes to make with quinoa?

Quinoa is a very versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Here are a few examples of dishes that you can make with quinoa:

  • Quinoa Salad: Cook quinoa and mix it with your favorite veggies, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and onions, and toss with a light dressing of your choice.
  • Quinoa Bowl: Cook quinoa and top it with your choice of protein (such as grilled chicken or shrimp), veggies, and a flavorful sauce (such as a spicy peanut sauce or a tangy lemon-tahini dressing).
  • Quinoa Fried Rice: Cook quinoa and use it as a base for a tasty fried rice dish. Add in veggies such as peas, carrots, and bell peppers, as well as scrambled eggs, and toss everything together in a skillet with soy sauce and other seasonings of your choice.
  • Quinoa Meatballs: Mix cooked quinoa with ground meat (beef, chicken, pork or turkey) and spices, shape into meatballs, and bake or pan-fry them.
  • Quinoa Stuffed Peppers: Cut bell peppers in half and remove the seeds, Stuff them with a mixture of cooked quinoa, ground meat or beans, diced tomatoes, onions and other veggies.
  • Quinoa breakfast porridge: Cook quinoa with a cup of milk, a tsp of sweetener and a tsp of vanilla extract, add in fruits and nuts of your choice.
  • Quinoa Burgers: Mix cooked quinoa, with mashed beans, egg, diced onions, herbs, and spices, and form patties, then pan fry or grill them.
  • Quinoa Chocolate Pudding: Cook quinoa and blend it with cocoa powder, sugar, and milk for a healthy and delicious chocolate pudding.

These are just a few examples of the many dishes that you can make with quinoa. Feel free to experiment with different ingredients and seasonings to create your own unique recipes.

Selected Recipes