Quinoa is eaten as a grain, though is actually a relative of spinach and chard; it is the seed of the plant. It has a nutty taste and slightly crunchy texture. It is high in protein, a good source of fiber and rich in manganese, magnesium and iron. Quinoa seeds are coated with bitter saponins, which need to be removed prior to cooking, as they not only taste bad, but are also bad for digestion. Most commercial quinoa is sold with the saponin removed, but the seeds can also be placed in a fine mesh strainer and rinsed under cold water to remove it.
Quinoa domestication is believed to have occured around Lake Titicaca, where the seeds of Chenopodium quinua have been a part of the diet since around 3,000 B.C.
Use a 1 to 2 quinoa to water ratio: boil 1 cup water (and 1/4 tsp salt, optional) and add rinsed quinoa. Reduce heat to low and simmer 12-15 minutes until liquid is absorbed. You will notice little strands appear on the grains.
Dried Quinoa grains are tiny roundish grains slightly smaller than a sesame seed. Dried, they are hard and crunchy.
When cooked the quinoa grain appears soft and translucent and the germ ring will be visible along the outside edge of the grain. The visible germ ring will look like a white curlicue.
When cooked, the quinoa will be soft, but have a tiny crunch of texture to it.
Selecting and Buying
Preparation and Use
Cook as you would rice- 2 parts liquid to 1 part grain. Season to taste.
You can substitute stock for water.
Conserving and Storing
Store in a cool dry place in an airtight container.