Until this week, I had eaten quinoa a couple of times but never cooked it, and only had a vague idea of what it was (a seed with not much gluten and more protein than brown rice). So it was time to learn. Well, first it was time to buy some of the stuff.
Not finding quinoa on the store shelves along with the flour and oatmeal, I tried the Organics section, which I usually stay out of because everything there is more expensive. Here, I found the smallest package of quinoa was about $4.50. Well, I figured, when it was cooked there’d be twice as much of it; quinoa’s kind of like rice, isn’t it?
So, what did that tell me about how to use it? I could just cook it up in water as a rice substitute, but that wouldn’t make much of a recipe. I could bake with it — or maybe even make quinoa pudding? But it seemed as if I’d been making desserts every week lately. Maybe I could make a quinoa version of my famous microwaved risotto. But what if quinoa didn’t behave quite like rice in that situation? One thing was for sure, the smoke alarm would go off.
Of course, the easy way to flavor rice is to cook it in something other than water, like stock or broth. You can throw in some other seasonings while you’re at it. I was cooking gingered pork chops that night, so I kept the Asian theme going with soy sauce added to the stock. This left me one more ingredient to come up with, and everything’s better with garlic, so that was it.
Having read a little about quinoa, I was surprised the package directions didn’t say to rinse it — I thought this was needed to wash off a bitter coating. Apparently it’d been pre-rinsed. I was also a little disconcerted because the directions said to cook it until it was tender and the liquid was all absorbed — and then it got tender without doing that. As tender as I wanted it, anyway.
Cooked quinoa is somewhat like couscous, the tiny North African pasta, but of course it’s healthier. It’s a versatile alternative to rice and other starchy side dishes, and this recipe is a good way to try it out.
Editor’s Note: This would be a great dish to prepare on a fall evening after putting up some decorations. Here is an article to show you some fun ways to decorate with fall leaves from your yard.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups less one tablespoon vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic
- Rinse quinoa unless package directions say otherwise.
- Peel and mince garlic.
- Bring stock and soy sauce to a boil.
- Add quinoa and garlic.
- Reduce heat to low.
- Cook as directed on package (typically 10-15 minutes cooking plus 15 minutes standing).
- Garnish with green onion (optional).