Here’s a fun and easy quinoa fact: if your quinoa doesn’t taste good, there’s basically no way to eat it that won’t make you sorry you didn’t spring for pasta. The natural coating on the super-nutrition seed gives off a bitter flavor that has made scores of potential quinoa-lovers into quinoa-shunners. But don’t hang up your Birkenstocks yet! Whether your quinoa’s bitter and gross or mushy and gross, some simple troubleshooting should turn your quin-woes right around.

Rinse your quinoa thoroughly in a fine sieve under running water, moving it around with your fingers to ensure you wash off all the unpleasant-tasting coating. This will seriously help.

Once your quinoa is rinsed, drain it well, then transfer to a medium-hot, dry pan. Shake the pan to break up any clumps, then toast the quinoa, shaking occasionally, for about a minute. This will help it stay firmer as it cooks. White quinoa is usually the kind to lose its nice toothsome bite (al dente if you will), so you might find this step unnecessary with red or black.

Ever grilled avocado halves? Sounds like fun, right? Stuff your perfect quinoa in one of those.

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