In 2015, the once-mysterious quinoa enjoys mainstream status. Despite our familiarity with this popular gluten-free wonder, many people still need help cooking better quinoa, ending up with batches that are overcooked, undercooked, gritty, bitter, or some combination of the above.
We want to make sure your quinoa rises, light and fluffy, above the pack, so we’ve outlined six of the most common mistakes when cooking quinoa and how to fix them:
1. Not Rinsing It First
When you bring your quinoa home from the grocery store, it has a bitter coating on it. Make sure that taste doesn’t end up in your meal by giving the seeds a rinse.
2. Cooking with Too Much Water
A common method is to use 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa, but some quinoa cooking tests recommend a 1:1 ratio. The point being: Err on the side of less water to avoid an overly mushy quinoa, and instead give it a lighter, slightly al dente finish.
3. Overcooking It
Once you’ve added the water to the quinoa in your saucepan, bring it to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the quinoa is tender—probably about 15 minutes. (By the way, have we mentioned how important simmering is?)
4. Not Draining It
If there’s water left unabsorbed by the quinoa, be sure to drain it from pot before letting the quinoa sit, to prevent a watery dish.
5. Not Letting It Sit
After draining the quinoa, cover it and let it rest for 15 minutes. This keeps it from clumping together and lets it dry out until it’s fluffy.
6. Eating It Solo
Although it’s packed with nutrients, quinoa can be a bit bland on its own. As a food editor at Slate once put it, “the key to making quinoa taste good is to add good-tasting things to it.” Treat it less like a snack unto itself and more like the versatile ingredient it is, by incorporating it into a creative recipe, like Plated’s Skirt Steak with Maple Brussel Sprouts and Creamy Quinoa. This dish combines the superfood with sautéed onions, chicken base, and ricotta cheese for a soft, warm, creamy quinoa. (Get the recipe here!)
What quinoa cooking tips have you picked up in your culinary adventures? Join the discussion in the comments below!