Did you know that you can toast quinoa? Toasted quinoa has a delicious nutty flavor and is very easy to make. Use your flavor-packed quinoa in Buddha bowls, salads, wraps, soups, skillets, or anywhere you’d use regular quinoa!
Can you eat quinoa toasted?
Quinoa is delicious toasted. Toasted quinoa can be eaten without boiling it as a crunchy topping to yogurt, oatmeal, salads, or to replace breadcrumbs as a topping on something like mac and cheese. You can also grind it into toasted quinoa flour.
You can also simmer toasted quinoa in water or vegetable stock and use it the same way you would use cooked quinoa as a side dish or in salads, wraps, Buddha bowls, veggie burgers, soups, etc.
What happens when you toast quinoa?
When you toast quinoa it will darken to a golden-brown colour and develop a nutty taste.
Toasting quinoa also helps keep the grains (seeds, actually) separate while cooking, meaning that your quinoa will be less sticky and gummy.
Toasting occurs thanks to the Maillard reaction, which happens when amino acids and sugars react at high temperatures and create new flavour compounds.
Toasting quinoa turns this normally rather bland tasting grain into a flavor-packed and versatile food that even quinoa-haters will enjoy!
How do you wash quinoa?
Quinoa seeds are coated in a naturally-occuring, bitter-tasting chemical called saponin which protects it from insects.
As the name suggests, saponin is like soap and eating unrinsed quinoa tastes soapy.
Nowadays, however, many brands of quinoa comes pre-washed. Check the package and if it says pre-washed, there is no need to rinse your quinoa at home.
If you’re buying quinoa from the bulk bins or the package doesn’t specify that it’s been washed, you can quickly and easily give it a rinse before toasting and cooking.
Measure out the amount of quinoa called for in your recipe or as much as you would like to cook.
Transfer the quinoa to a fine-meshed strainer. Quinoa seeds are tiny. If you don’t have a strainer with small enough holes, you can also rinse quinoa in a coffee filter.
Place the strainer under the running tap of cool water. I like to stir it around with my hand as it rinses.
About 30 to 45 seconds is enough to rinse the saponins off the quinoa. Turn off the water and let any remaining water drain out.
Do you boil quinoa after toasting it?
If you are making toasted quinoa to use as a crunchy topping or as a breadcrumb replacement, you do not need to boil quinoa after toasting it.
If you are toasting quinoa to add more flavour to regular cooked quinoa, you can boil it after toasting.
First toast the quinoa in a pan on the stovetop, then add water or vegetable stock. Simmer, covered, until the quinoa is cooked through.
How to toast quinoa
There are several ways you can toast quinoa.
Some people like to roast it in the oven. Roasting quinoa help prevent it from accidentally burning, but it takes longer and requires an extra pan.
Similar to making Spanish rice and risotto, I like to toast my quinoa in a pan before adding liquid directly to the pan to cook.
Rinse the quinoa: Many brands of quinoa are pre-rinsed. If yours has already been rinsed you can skip this step.
To wash quinoa, place it in a fine-meshed strainer and rinse it under cool water for 30 - 45 seconds. Allow the excess water to drain out.
Toast the quinoa: Place the quinoa in a large pan and turn on the heat to medium. I like to use a non-stick pan.
Before the quinoa begins to toast, the excess water will evaporate. You don’t need to constantly stir the quinoa during this time, just give it a stir every minute or so.
After about 10 minutes you will notice the quinoa start to make a crackling or popping sound.
This means it’s beginning to toast so you’ll want to keep a close eye on it and stir it more frequently as it can easily burn.
The quinoa will start to darken in colour and smell nutty like peanut butter.
After about 5 minutes, the quinoa will be a reddish-brown colour.
Cook the quinoa: Pour water or stock into the pan and cover it with its lid.
For toasted quinoa, I find a ratio of 2:1 liquid to quinoa to produce cooked quinoa that is not sticky or gummy. So for ¾ cup of quinoa, I use 1 ½ cups of water.
Turn the heat down to low and allow the quinoa to gently simmer until the liquid is absorbed - about 15 minutes.
If you notice the pan running dry long before 15 minutes is up, you can add a bit more water and be sure that the heat is low.
Turn off the heat but leave the quinoa covered for a further 5 minutes to steam.
You should now have perfectly cooked toasted quinoa! Remove the lid, add salt to taste and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
What to do with toasted quinoa
Toasted quinoa is as versatile as regular un-toasted quinoa but it’s extra flavourful!
Buddha bowls: Use toasted quinoa as the base and add in your favourite vegetables and beans. Check out these vegan bowl recipes for inspiration.
Salad: Quinoa in salads make for great vegan high protein salads that are filling and satisfying.
Wraps: Quinoa is a great alternative to rice in wraps and burritos.
Burgers and loaves: Vegan “meatloaf” and veggie burgers will benefit from the extra depth of flavour that toasting quinoa imparts.
Skillets: The combinations are endless when you toss a bunch of veggies and quinoa into a pan like this uber-popular Mexican quinoa recipe.
Soups: Toss some dry toasted quinoa into the pot and let it cook in the stock alongside the vegetables for a warm and nourishing soup.
Cooked toasted quinoa can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 - 5 days.
To freeze cooked quinoa, allow it to cool completely. Transfer it to freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as possible and freeze for up to 6 months.
- ¾ cup (150 grams) quinoa
- 1 ½ cups (350 ml) water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- If your quinoa is not pre-rinsed, rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer under cool water for 30 - 45 seconds. Allow the excess water to drain off.
- Transfer the quinoa to a large non-stick pan. Turn the heat on to medium. At first the remaining water will evaporate off the grains. Stir the quinoa about once a minute.
- After about 10 minutes, the water will be evaporated and you will hear the quinoa begin to crackle and pop.
- Stir the quinoa more frequently now to prevent burning as it toasts. After about 5 minutes of toasting, the quinoa should be a reddish-brown colour.
- Pour in the water and cover the pan with its lid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until all the water has absorbed - about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat but leave the lid on the pan to steam the quinoa for a further 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid, season with salt and pepper, and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
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