April 12th, 2014

The best way to cook quinoa

I first encountered quinoa in 2010 at Dalya’s in Bedford – I loved the “toothsome texture and a great nutty taste,” It was only later I found what a superfood it is; it has twice the protein of most grains, only 4 grams of unsaturated fat and is 22 calories per serving. It has become so popular in America that the poor people of Peru and Bolivia can no longer afford what used to be a staple of their diet.

I have tried a couple recipes, but have had less than stellar results; it always seems to come out mushy, or crunchy. This is Cook’s Illustrated’s version and it was perfect. The quinoa was tender and fluffy. It is also a great blank canvas for any flavor combination. I tossed my pilaf with broccoli and toasted pecans, but the possibilities are endless.

RECIPE: Quinoa Pilaf with Herbs and Lemon
Serves 4-6
1 1/2 cups prewashed quinoa
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
1 small onion, chopped fine
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups water
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. Toast quinoa in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until quinoa is very fragrant and makes continuous popping sound, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer quinoa to bowl and set aside.
2. Return now-empty pan to medium-low heat and melt butter. Add onion and salt; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and light golden, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Increase heat to medium-high, stir in water and quinoa, and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until grains are just tender and liquid is absorbed, 18 to 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. Remove pan from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff quinoa with fork, stir in herbs and lemon juice, and serve.