If you have become familiar with quinoa in demystifying quinoa and feeling all excited to make something with it, then you are in the right place. Here is how to cook fluffy quinoa within minutes.
It can be quite daunting to adopt and cook with a new ingredient, especially if it hasn’t been part of your pantry for long or at all. But cooking quinoa is quite easy and the best thing is that it cooks quickly, compared to many other grains/lentils. I often batch cook quinoa, i.e. I cook it in bulk and use it in different ways for 2-3 meals during the week.
How long does it take to cook quinoa from scratch?
I usually soak grains/lentils/seeds overnight. You don’t really need to do that with quinoa, but for me soaking grains seems to have become a habit. It takes about five minutes to add quinoa and water to a bowl. If you omit this step, it takes under 20 minutes to cook quinoa from scratch. If you have only 30 minutes to make a meal, quinoa can certainly fit into that.
How to cook quinoa on stove top
Step 1: soak dry quinoa with enough water to cover twice the volume soaked. So if you soak one cup of quinoa add least three cups of water. Quinoa balloons to almost twice its dry volume after soaking. As you can see in the pic below, soaking quinoa brings out the saponins–the anti-nutrients on the surface. This step is totally optional.
Step 2: Add quinoa (either dry or soaked overnight) to a fine-mesh sieve. Wash under running (cold) water till quinoa in the sieve is washed thoroughly.
Step 3: Add the washed quinoa to a heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Roast the wet quinoa for about two minutes.
Step 4: Add 1-3/4 cup of water for every cup of dry quinoa. You can also add salt or any other seasoning if you desire in this step. Cook uncovered over medium heat till all the water has evaporated. It takes under 15 minutes to cook quinoa in step 4.
Step 5: Once the quinoa has completely cooked, you can see that the seed unfurls to reveal a strand-like ring. Cover the pot completely and let the cooked quinoa sit for about five minutes. Thereafter, open the lid and fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork. Gently, please.
If you would like to learn about the health benefits and tips on buying and storing quinoa read: Demystifying Quinoa: An Energy-Boosting Ancient Pseudocereal
Quinoa and water proportion
I started out cooking quinoa with 1:2 (quinoa to water) ratio (as in this Quinoa-melon-mint salad from Corsica). Although the quinoa turned out well cooked, it wasn’t always fluffy. If you are wondering what’s the big deal about quinoa being fluffy, you are onto something important. The higher water ratio yields slightly soggy quinoa, which works fine if you are combining quinoa with lentils or beans–more like using as you would use rice. However, in making quinoa salads and energy balls the high water content often does not produce the desired (drier) texture and taste. I have sometimes found that the dark color-red and varieties of quinoa often require slightly higher amount of water. You can add a couple of tablespoons of water if you find that quinoa becomes dry before being fully cooked.
Meal planning with quinoa
I often cook quinoa for 2-3 meals. After cooking, it is best to cool it to room temperature before putting in the fridge or freezer. Stored in an airtight container, cooked quinoa should last for about 3-5 days in refrigerator and for about 4 weeks in the freezer. I often don’t freeze quinoa as it is so easy and fast to prepare fresh. Enjoy!
Cook perfect quinoa every time in 20 minutes.
- 1 cup quinoa (pre-soaked or rinsed)
- 1-3/4 cups water*
- 1/4 tsp salt**
Soak quinoa overnight (optional). Before cooking rinse pre-soaked quinoa or dry quinoa quite well under running water.
Over medium heat add the rinsed quinoa to a heavy-bottom pot and roast for about two minutes. Add water and cook uncovered till all the liquid is absorbed. Quinoa, when cooked is soft and chewy. Cover the pot for five minutes and then fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork. Enjoy in your favorite dishes.
If quinoa is not pre-soaked and rinsed, it is essential to wash quinoa well under running water to remove antinutritents--saponins (see Demystifying Quinoa for more information.) If not washed off, saponins can cause stomach ache.
*if you are not going to add cooked quinoa to something sweet, using homemade vegetable broth lends a mild flavor to the otherwise slightly blend flavor of quinoa.
**I often don't add salt as I also use quinoa in making desserts and morning porridge. But if I pre-decide that quinoa is going to be exclusively used in savory recipes, I add 1/4 tsp salt per cup of dry quinoa.
Note: 1 cup quinoa yields about 3 (packed) cups of cooked quinoa and has 4 servings.