How To Flavor Quinoa With Or Without Broth

Quinoa, once a niche ingredient favored by health food enthusiasts, is having its moment in mainstream food culture. An ancient seed, quinoa originated in the Andes mountains, located in today's Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Though technically a seed, quinoa is classified as a whole grain food that belongs to the same plant family as beets and spinach. Rich in nutrients including protein, iron, and zinc, quinoa — which is naturally gluten-free — enjoyed a surge in popularity when gluten-free diets became en vogue in recent decades. Today, you can find quinoa in the supermarket, ready to cook, and many restaurants list quinoa on their menus to attract diners.

While eating nutritiously is commendable, not all healthy foods taste good. But even the blandest of ingredients can become more popular when properly seasoned. Quinoa, which cooks just like rice and other grains, can best absorb flavors if you season the broth or other cooking liquids as it rehydrates.

Making quinoa with broth

With a taste that falls somewhere between brown rice and oatmeal, quinoa pairs well with many savory flavors. However, its seeds can taste slightly bitter. Therefore, it's important to cook quinoa in a flavorful liquid to help cover up any lingering sharpness.

Start by preparing the quinoa for cooking: Rinse it under water to help remove some of its natural bite. Next, place the quinoa in a pot and add broth. You can use any kind of broth you wish, from standard options like chicken broth and vegetable broth to more interesting choices like Japanese dashi. For every part of quinoa, use between 1¾ to 2 parts of broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer on low until the seeds are tender but not mushy. Fluff with a fork and mix with minced herbs and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil before serving.

Making quinoa without broth

If you lack broth, it doesn't mean you'll be stuck with bland quinoa. Simply rinse the grains as before, then instead of boiling them right away, toast them in a dry saucepan with oil. Just like toasting rice with fat before making risotto, toasting quinoa magnifies its nutty flavors. You can use olive oil, grapeseed oil, or even butter for this task. Once nice and toasted, transfer your quinoa to a pot, and add between 1¾ to 2 parts of water for every part quinoa. Then, season the water generously with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder or minced fresh garlic, and any fresh or dried herbs you have on hand. After bringing to a boil, cover and let simmer on low until finished. Fluff the grains and taste to adjust seasoning before serving.

Cooked quinoa can be incorporated into many different recipes. When cooled, it can be combined with edamame, green onions, chopped cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes to make a delicious salad. It can also replace rice in a healthy, lower-carb quinoa stir-fry with garlic and pineapple