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How To Cook Quinoa: Recipes And Tips

What is quinoa, and how is it used in cooking? What are its properties, and what are the different ways to prepare it ? Here’s everything you need to know about cooking quinoa.

What is Quinoa And How To Cook It

Despite being an increasingly popular food on our tables, thanks to the notable benefits it brings to the body’s health, cooking quinoa always raises some doubts. Although it is generally assimilated to cereals such as barley or spelled, in reality, it is a false cereal, or pseudo cereal, as it is more appropriately an annual herbaceous plant that belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family. Tiny white, red, or black seeds are obtained from the quinoa plant, which, in addition to being consumed whole, can also be ground to obtain flour with a high protein value .

  • Quinoa is native to the Andean regions; in fact, it was already known and cultivated by the Incas by virtue of its resistance to altitude and its nutritional intake. Currently, in nature, there are more than 200 varieties of this pseudo cereal. However the most used in the culinary field is ” Real ” quinoa, which stands out for the low quantity of saponins contained within it.
  • Given the numerous beneficial properties for health and it’s good nutritional intake, this pseudocereal is an increasingly used food, especially by those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, but how is boiled quinoa prepared? Here is the step-by-step process :
  • Quinoa, not being an actual cereal but a false cereal, does not need to be soaked; however, its seeds must be washed under running water. This procedure is necessary as it serves to eliminate saponin , which is a substance that, although not toxic or dangerous to health, can give dishes an unpleasant bitter note;
  • Cooking quinoa is similar to preparing rice; in fact, you need to calculate a proportion of approximately two parts of liquid for each part of cereal ;
  • Bring some water to a boil following the recommended proportional ratio, then pour in the quinoa and, from when it starts boiling, count about 10-12 minutes of cooking ;
  • If necessary, instead of water, you can use milk, broth, or another liquid ;
  • After this time, the liquid should have been completely absorbed. To understand if the quinoa is cooked, observe the grains: if they are translucent, then it means it is cooked to perfection;
  • The procedure for cooking quinoa is straightforward; however, to give it a little more flavor and crunchiness, after cooking it in the liquid, it is also possible to sauté it quickly in a pan with a drizzle of oil and various spices.

How To Steam Or Microwave Quinoa

Quinoa cooked in liquid follows the same process as pasta or rice, but are there other cooking techniques that can be used to make this pseudocereal tastier or quicker to cook?

Here’s how to prepare quinoa using two different cooking methods :

Steamed Quinoa

To steam quinoa:

  • Rinse the grains under running water and place them in a perforated basket .
  • Fill the steamer with more water and place it on the heat.
  • As soon as it reaches the boil, lower the heat to a minimum and place the perforated basket.

In this case, the cooking time is approximately 20 minutes .

Microwave Quinoa

After washing the quinoa grains under running water, please place them in a container suitable for microwave cooking. Together with the seeds, add two glasses of water, keeping in mind that the capacity of the container must be at least one liter so that the quinoa can cook correctly.

Cover the container with a lid and leave to cook for about 3 minutes. Remove the container, mix it, and wait at least a minute before heating it again in the microwave for another 3 minutes. If the quinoa starts to stick together, it means it’s ready. If not, add another two large spoons of water and leave in the oven for another minute. Let the beans rest for a few more minutes so that they finish absorbing all the liquid.

Why Cook Quinoa: The Properties Of This Food

Quinoa is a pseudo cereal that is characterized by its notable beneficial properties. In fact, it contains all nine essential amino acids, including the crucial lysine and methionine. It has approximately the same calories as other cereals, i.e., 360 per 100 grams. However, it is considered more digestible and light .

Furthermore, quinoa contains a good quantity of fiber, which makes it ideal for all those who are on a diet or who suffer from constipation, while the levels of mineral salts are also notable , in particular magnesium , sodium, phosphorus, iron , and zinc . Quinoa provides group B vitamins, vitamins C and E, and, unlike other cereals, it does not contain gluten , which makes it ideal for consumption even for people with celiac disease .

How To Cook Quinoa: 3 Recipes To Try

Once you understand the process, how do you cook white quinoa to make it truly tasty?

Here are three easy recipes you absolutely must try:

Quinoa With Vegetables


  • 200 grams of quinoa
  • 70 grams of red peppers
  • 70 grams of yellow peppers
  • 150 grams of courgettes
  • 100 grams of onion
  • 400 ml of water
  • Fresh mint to taste

Start by cleaning the onions , cutting them in half, and then slicing them into thin slices. Also, cut the red and yellow peppers in half , scrape out the internal seeds, then cut them into cubes, as do the courgettes . Heat a drizzle of oil in a pan and add the onions first. Leave them to simmer slowly , adding a little water, and when they begin to brown, add the peppers. Mix and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the courgettes.

Cook everything for another 5 minutes , seasoning with salt and pepper. Rinse the quinoa to remove the layer of saponin that forms the external film, then heat a drizzle of oil on the bottom of a pan and pour in the quinoa to toast it. Mix with a wooden spoon to prevent it from sticking , season with salt, and cover with the remaining water: its volume must be double that of the quinoa. As soon as the seeds open into flowers and the water has been absorbed, the quinoa will be ready: add it to the vegetables, mix and sauté for a minute to bind the flavors, then finish with a handful of mint leaves to give flavor to the dish.

Quinoa Meatballs


  • 150 grams of quinoa
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 potato
  • 1 egg
  • 40 grams of cheese
  • Bread crumbs
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste

Rinse the quinoa underwater , then put it in a pan with water, calculating double the weight of the quinoa. Cook for 12-15 minutes from the boil . In the meantime, wash and peel the carrot and potato , then grate them. Transfer the quinoa into a bowl, let it cool, and then add the vegetables, the julienned cheese, an egg, salt, pepper, and basil . Knead as if it were a regular dough for meatballs, then make small balls of dough and roll them in breadcrumbs . Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, sprinkle with a drizzle of oil, and bake in the oven at 180° for 20 minutes .

Quinoa Cakes


  • 150 grams of quinoa
  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 grated lemon zest
  • 50 grams of grated cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Fresh ginger to taste
  • Salt and oil to taste

Place the quinoa in a colander and wash it very well under cold tap water to remove the saponin present. Take a large pot and cook the quinoa in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes. The quantity of water must be twice that of quinoa. Turn off and leave in the pan for another 5 minutes, then drain and place in a separate medium-sized bowl.

Grate the courgettes into julienne strips and quickly pan them in a pan with a drizzle of oil, salt, and ginger . Add this mixture to the quinoa, then add the egg, lemon zest, grated cheese, and a pinch of salt. Blend well until every one of the fixings is joined. Leave the mixture to rest for a few minutes and, using a pastry cutter, a biscuit mold, or a glass, form small cakes . Line a baking tray with baking paper, place the cakes on it, and bake in the oven at 180° for about 20 minutes.

Also Read: Soft And Simple Apple Pie: Classic Recipe (Grandma’s Apple Pie)

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