Quinoa has become one of the darlings of the wellness world thanks to its high protein content, nutty flavor, and versatility in the kitchen.
It is also rich in vitamins and minerals and relatively easy to cook with, once you know a couple of tricks.
While we consider it a grain, it is actually the seed of the goosefoot plant, which is a relative of spinach, beet, and chard. Even though it is technically a seed, we can use it in place of grains in many applications in the kitchen.
Since it is naturally gluten-free, it makes a great pantry staple for folks who are living that gluten-free lifestyle.
It’s also loaded with fiber and its subtle nutty flavor complements sweet or savory recipes. But what if you’ve never cooked quinoa before and end up with crunchy, undercooked seeds?
Can they be saved? Luckily, there’s a simple trick to fix undercooked quinoa.
So, how do you fix undercooked quinoa? Add 1/4 cup of water back to your saucepan, cook it on high heat for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat source and allow it to steam for 10-15 minutes. Fluff your quinoa with a fork and enjoy!
Read on to discover what quinoa is, how to fix undercooked quinoa, the tricks to cook perfect quinoa every single time, and a few delicious ways to enjoy your quinoa.
What Is Quinoa?
Even though it looks like a grain and is often used in place of grains in lots of recipes, quinoa is actually the seed of the goosefoot plant, a relative of spinach, beets, and chard plants.
It is packed with nutrition and contains a complete amino acid profile, which is rare for plant-based proteins.
It has a lovely chewy texture and nutty flavor and can come in a variety of colors to add some visual interest to your plate.
It is an ancient grain, having been eaten for at least 4000 years. It was popular amongst the Incas and is native to the Andean region, specifically Bolivia and Peru.
It is naturally gluten-free, which makes it a great pseudo-grain for folks with Celiac disease, gluten allergy, or who are just trying a gluten-free diet.
You will likely be most familiar with it as a seed/grain, but you can also find quinoa flour and quinoa flakes to be used in baking recipes.
In addition to containing the 9 essential amino acids for a hit of plant-based protein, it is also rich in fiber, iron, and manganese. It’s a powerful little food that tastes great and has endless opportunities for creative use in the kitchen.
How To Fix Undercooked Quinoa
If you have ended up with quinoa that is half cooked, with hard kernels and some fully cooked kernels, there is one simple thing that you can do to fix undercooked quinoa.
The easiest method is to add more water and cook it for a couple more minutes. Follow these steps to fix your undercooked quinoa like a pro:
- Add 1/4 cup of water to your saucepan and quinoa.
- Cover the saucepan with a lid and place it on high heat on the stove. Cook your quinoa for 1-2 minutes.
- After 2 minutes have passed, remove your quinoa from the stove. Keep the lid on and let it steam for another 10 minutes.
- Once 10 minutes have passed, remove the lid and fluff your quinoa with a fork. Serve and enjoy!
How To Cook Perfect Quinoa Every Time
To avoid having to fix your undercooked quinoa there is a very important step of the cooking process that you must follow. That is to NEVER lift the lid on your quinoa as it is cooking.
If you continue lifting your lid, steam/moisture escapes and that’s when you end up with hard kernels of half-cooked or unevenly cooked quinoa. Resist the urge to peak and just trust in the cooking process!
You will also want to make sure that you rinse and drain your quinoa before cooking it. These little pseudo-grains contain a compound called saponins.
This compound can make your quinoa taste soapy and bitter if not properly rinsed before cooking.
You also don’t want to skip the resting phase at the end of the cooking process. Allowing your quinoa to sit for a few minutes before serving helps it achieve that perfect texture that you want in a hearty bowl of quinoa.
Follow the recipe below for perfect quinoa every time.
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1 and 3/4 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- splash of olive oil
- In a medium-sized saucepan stir together the quinoa, water, sea salt, and olive oil.
- Put the lid on your quinoa and turn the heat to high.
- Bring your quinoa to a boil. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID TO CHECK! Watch for steam escaping from under the lid of your saucepan.
- Once your quinoa is boiling, reduce to low heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, remove your quinoa from the heat and fluff with a fork. Recover your saucepan and let it sit for another 5-10 minutes before serving.
Mexican Inspired Quinoa Salad Jar Recipe With Salad Dressing
Here’s one of our favorite recipes for using quinoa in a delicious dish!
- 1can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can corn niblets, drained and rinsed
- ½ tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- a few sprinkles of black pepper
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. cayenne (optional)
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 2 mixed bell peppers, chopped
- 1 container salad greens
- 6 green onions, diced
- 1 handful of cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
- ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add black beans, corn niblets, olive oil, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne to a mixing bowl and stir to cover.
- Place the mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir around. Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until browned.
- Once the beans and rice mix is cooked & cooled take 5-6 500 ml mason jars and layer them with the quinoa, black beans, corn, bell peppers, tomatoes, greens, onions, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds. Make sure to go in this order to prevent the from greens getting soggy.
- Place your jars in the fridge to grab and go for lunches during the week!
- Can top with avocado (cut fresh!) or Creamy Dreamy Avocado Ginger Lime Dressing.
Creamy Dreamy Avocado Lime Salad Dressing Recipe
This is another favorite of ours. It features bold, zingy flavors from the lime alongside rich, creamy avocado and quinoa!
- 1 avocado
- 1 inch of ginger, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 limes, zest and juice
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. ground or Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp. honey
- 1 cup olive oil
- Sea salt to taste
- Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a large bowl or food processor.
- Blend together (I use an immersion blender) until smooth.
- Once the ingredients are combined, slowly add oil while continuing to blend. Add a pinch of salt to taste.
- Chill and use within 7-10 days.
This recipe makes about 2 cups of salad dressing. It can be used as a veggie dip.
Delicious Crispy Quinoa Cake Recipe
If you want to find another way to use quinoa in your kitchen, these Crispy Quinoa Cakes are a great option.
They combine quinoa and split peas for a protein and fiber-packed meal that will keep your blood sugar stable and your belly full. I love combining them with the Avocado Dressing above.
- 1.5 cups quinoa, uncooked + 2 ¾ cups water
- ½ cup dry red lentils or split peas + 2 cups water
- 3 eggs
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- ¼ cup tahini
- 1 tbsp. mustard
- ½ tsp. turmeric powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. coriander seed powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
- ¼ cup tapioca flour
- ¼ cup coconut or chickpea flour
- Cook the quinoa with water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Do not remove the lid while simmering. Once 15 minutes is up fluff with a fork and let cool.
- Cook the split peas or lentils with water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer until soft. Strain and set aside.
- While the quinoa and split peas are cooking, preheat your oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment.
- Combine quinoa, split peas/lentils, egg, green onions, tahini, mustard, and spices together.
- Add your flours and mix thoroughly.
- Form into small patties, about 2 inches in diameter, and place them on baking sheet, with space between each to allow the sides to crisp.
- Bake your quinoa cakes for 15 minutes then flip them over and bake for another 10-15 minutes until crispy on the outside.
- Serve with dipping sauce of choice!
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