(Raw and dry)
I feel like quinoa is new enough (to most of us) that it is still a bit misunderstood. At this point, the majority of us know how to cook pasta and rock a rice cooker, but what about the rest of the grains, especially the whole ones? And do the rules change when we soak them first? I don’t have all of the answers for you today, but I do have one: how to cook soaked quinoa perfectly.
(Raw and soaked for 12 hours)
I don’t throw this word around recklessly. As much as I find plenty of charm in nature’s imperfections and messy but delicious food, poorly cooked quinoa is not one of them. When prepared properly, quinoa is neutral tasting compared to many whole grains, and has a less fiber-obvious texture. It is so full of protein, and such an easy (ahem, once you learn the rules) and convenient food to make, that it is only fair that you enjoy it at its best, instead of suffering through it because it is ‘good for you’.
If you don’t already know, soaking your grains for 12-24 hours with a splash of an acidic (I use raw apple cider vinegar) is a good habit to get into. It releases the phytic acid (an anti-nutrient found in grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, that binds to and can prevent us from absorbing the nutrients) and activates the phytase (an enzyme that helps them to digest).
From a nutrition standpoint, this is pretty awesome. It takes a little bit more effort and planning ahead, but this can also work in your favor. Like when you feel the like late-in-the-day fatigue and dirty food thoughts that make ordering pizza for dinner seem like a good idea, but then $10 of quinoa soaking on your kitchen counter keeps you headed in the right direction. No one likes to waste money.
From a culinary perspective, this complicates things and can cause some sad, soggy moments. Most cookbooks don’t cover how to cook grains that have been soaked, because (subtle eye roll) you don’t have to soak grains, just legumes. So now that we know that the cool kids DO actually soak their grains, what is the answer? Rely on somebody who has both over and undercooked her pre-soaked grains until things started reliably working out, to offer you some tips.
Being more of an ‘eyeball it’ style of chef, (mostly because numbers and recipes turn into gummy worms in my brain) that is how I will teach you. No measured amounts, just pictures and cues. This also means that you won’t need to track down a recipe every time you want to make quinoa. I have also included a simple recipe to used your perfectly cooked (and digestible!) quinoa in if you wish, although, a pinch of sea(weed) salt and a splash of that really good extra virgin olive oil that you have been hording will do a much better job of getting the two of you acquainted.
- Apple Cider vinegar
- 1 c of raw quinoa, cooked using the method described (it will grow to 2-ish cups)
- 1 bunch of curly Kale, massaged
- 1-2 c Cherry tomatoes, oven-dried
- 8 Garlic cloves, roasted with the tomatoes
- 5 small sprigs of Rosemary
- ½ c fresh Basil, torn
- 6-10 Brazil nuts, soaked for 12-24 hours and chopped
- 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pinch of Sea(weed) salt
- Soak your quinoa in at least twice as much water, and a glug of raw apple cider vinegar for 8-10 hours.
- Drain it and rinse it well with fresh water.
- Transfer the quinoa to a pot and add enough water to moisten the grains and just barely cover.
- Turn the burner to high and as soon as you see some bubbles burp through, put the lid on top and turn the heat off (but leave the pot on the burner) and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Allow to cool if adding to a salad, or serve with a warm pasta sauce, or a pinch of sea(weed) salt and some good extra virgin olive oil. (or make the recipe below)
- Prepare the 1 c of quinoa using the instructions above
- Soak your Brazil nuts at the same time
- Halve the tomatoes and lay them out on a parchment-line baking sheet with the whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic and sprigs of rosemary. Bake @ 325*F for 25-35 minutes, until they get a bit wrinkly.
- Pull the kale leaves from the stems, wash and dry them and massage them roughly (lots of squeezing, they will like it) until they resembles cooked kale. (this breaks down its cell walls and makes it easier to digest. Everybody wins?)
- Chop up the soaked and rinsed Brazil nuts
- Once the quinoa is cooked, dump it into a bowl and add the olive oil and sea(weed) salt, and fluff it up.
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy warm, room temp or cold (quinoa doesn't stiffen up in the fridge the way that rice does, so it works well cold. Just in case you were concerned about that).