Tips and techniques

Quinoa: what it is and how to cook it

We're seeing it everywhere in every colour - but what is quinoa, why should we eat it and how do you cook it?

While it may be relatively new to many of us, quinoa has been a staple food in the Andean region of South America for thousands of years. The Incas are said to have considered it sacred, calling it “the mother of all grains“.

As its popularity grows in Australia, we take a look at exactly what quinoa is, its impressive nutritional value and the best recipes to use it in.

What is quinoa?

Nutritious and delicious quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is cooked and eaten like a grain, but it is in fact a seed. It has a delicate, nutty flavour and a slightly chewy texture.

There are three varieties of quinoa available – white, red and black. We love it as it is quick to cook, is an excellent carrier of flavours and adds a lovely texture to meals.

You can use it as a replacement wherever you might use grains or rice.


Try it: Zucchini quinoa salad with candied walnuts and haloumi

Is quinoa healthy?

Seeds are the means by which 
many plants procreate, therefore 
they must give the new seedling the nutrition it needs to grow and sprout. This is why seeds are such nutritional powerhouses and quinoa is no exception.

Among the other health benefits of quinoa, it is also rich in protein, dietary fibre, folate, dietary minerals and several B vitamins required to turn the food that you eat into energy to fuel your body.

carrot, fetta and quinoa tarts with salsa verde

Try it: Carrot, feta and quinoa tarts with salsa verde

How do you cook quinoa?

To prepare 1 cup of quinoa, rinse well under cold, running water. Bring 2 cups of water to the boil in a medium saucepan, add quinoa 
and cook, covered, over low heat for 10-12 minutes or until just tender. Drain any residual liquid and fluff up quinoa with a fork.

This story originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly. To stay up-to-date with our food experts, you can subscribe to the magazine online via magshop or follow us on Facebook.

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