As with a a lot of grains and pulses, quinoa is a large family of plants that includes many varieties. It is considered a pseudocereal or a pseudograin and is most commonly available in three colours, red, white and black.
We like to substitute quinoa for rice in some recipes to ensure variation in our diets. Quinoa is gluten free and can be used in place of grains. Quinoa can be used in its “grain format” as whole or flakes, but it can also be found made into pasta, bread and other forms of gluten free alternatives. As with many gluten free foods, be sure that it is certified gluten free as a lot of gluten free foods are processed in non gluten free facilities, so cross contamination may occur.
Because there are very few varieties available on the market, cooking time is the same for all of them. The ratio is slightly less than 2:1, a little less than two measures of water to one measure of quinoa. Cooking quinoa with less water keeps a crunch and more water allows for a more porridge like consistency. One benefit of quinoa, when bought as flakes, is that it can be eaten raw and can be used in baking, very similar to how we use rolled oats.
Use a large enough pot so that there is a 5-15 cm (depending on diameter of the pot used) space between the quinoa and water and the top of the pot. The quinoa will bubble and steam will rise which can overflow the pot if there is not enough space in the pot to allow for this.
- Rinse quinoa, this step washes away any saponin that has remained from processing and can taste bitter (we generally skip this step, it is definitely not a “must”)
- Measure quinoa and water and place in a large pot
- Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until water has been absorbed, roughly 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and allow to rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes
There is some controversy around quinoa and what the effect globalisation has had on those who grow it and have traditionally consumed it. Please see link for more information: