The secret to cooking perfect quinoa (+video)

Toasting quinoa before you cook it will draw out the natural, sweet nutty flavor of the grain.

By , Beyond The Peel

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    Quinoa, black bean, and broccoli salad with a blackberry serrano dressing.
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Where you are in your whole food journey will determine your familiarity with this extremely versatile grain/seed.  With all of its media attention these days, the chances are high you are familiar with this new Hollywood star of the superfood world. But if you’ve never met, please allow me to introduce you!

Today I’m not going to share any fancy recipes, just the basics. I spend a lot of time on the Internet and I’m always surprised by how many variations there seem to be on cooking quinoa. So, if you’re new to whole foods or just starting out on your journey, you may find yourself confused as to how to cook it.

The beauty of quinoa is that it takes no more time to cook than rice, is fairly neutral tasting, has a good texture and is enjoyed by most. Also, quinoa does not require any special preparation. If you have a spouse or family that is resisting whole food options, this is a great place to start.

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The only thing is that some people detect a slight bitter flavor (it is very subtle) when they eat quinoa. The method I’ll demonstrate in the video takes no extra time, makes the quinoa taste nutty and masks any bitterness. If you’re just introducing quinoa to your family, I highly recommend this method. It cooks perfectly every time. Set the timer and walk away! 

Black Bean, Quinoa & Broccoli Salad with Blackberry Serrano Sauce

1 cup quinoa

2 cups of water

6 tablespoons of butter

4-1/2 cups chopped broccoli crowns

1/2 an onion, chopped

1-1/2 cups black beans, cooked

salt & pepper

In a small pot, place 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, or according to package instructions. Once cooked, mix 3 tablespoons butter in quinoa and add salt & pepper to flavor.

While the quinoa is cooking, prep the broccoli. Chop 1/2 an onion into small pieces. Chop the broccoli crowns into bit size pieces until you have about 4 to 4-1/2 cups. Add 2-3 tablespoons of butter to a frying pan. Add onions and broccoli to the pan and cook for 7-10 minutes, or until broccoli reaches the desired doneness. Do not overcook the broccoli. Add the black beans 2 minutes before the broccoli is finished cooking to allow them to warm up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once cooked, remove from heat, and combine the broccoli, onions, and black beans with the quinoa in a large bowl and mix together.

Blackberry Serrano Sauce

1 clove of garlic

1/3 cup almonds

1/2 serrano pepper, seeded and diced

1/4 cup water

1 cup frozen blackberries, thawed

1 teaspoon maple syrup

sprinkle of salt

Put the garlic and almonds in a food processor and blend until it is flour like (my food processor wasn’t good enough to make it like this, so don’t fret if it’s still rough). Add the remaining ingredients and blend until desired consistency is reached.

To serve, place the black bean, broccoli & quinoa salad on a plate and top with blackberry serrano sauce. The sauce is fantastic so don’t hold back. Enjoy!

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of food bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by The Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own and they are responsible for the content of their blogs and their recipes. All readers are free to make ingredient substitutions to satisfy their dietary preferences, including not using wine (or substituting cooking wine) when a recipe calls for it. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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