Before cooking this high protein seed, it is important to rinse it well. Rinsing removes the bitter resin-like coating, called saponin. Store-bought quinoa has been rinsed before packaging; however, it is still a good idea to go through this step just to make sure no saponin or residue lingers. It is obvious when saponin is present, as soapy looking “suds” will appear in the water when rinsing.
Simply place quinoa in a strainer and rinse thoroughly with water, while rubbing your hands through the seeds. The saponin easily washes away from the seeds and down the drain. To ensure the seeds are properly rinsed and ready for cooking, taste one or two after rinsing. Also be sure to remove any black grains, as these will not get tender.
There is more than one way to cook with quinoa, but hot liquid cooking is the most widely used technique. When cooked in water, quinoa seeds swell to three or four times the uncooked seed size. Cooked seeds become tender and feature an al dente texture. Some like to toast the seeds before water cooking to enhance a pleasantly nutty, roasted flavor.
If uncooked seeds are used in a recipe, expect a bit of a crunchy texture and a flavor that can often surprise you, as there isn’t much of a way to gauge this without cooking. Flavor can range from mild to slightly bitter. A helpful tip for cooking quinoa: One cup of dry quinoa will make 2-3 cups cooked.
Both the flavor and the texture of the protein rich seed compliment many dishes quite well. The taste is never too bold and therefore compliments a variety of dishes, from rice and beans to stews. Even sweet desserts, breads and cereals made with fruit juice or fresh and dried fruit, syrup and sweet spices can handle the nutty flavor that comes with the quinoa seed.
Recipes using quinoa can make up an entire meal!
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