I fell in love with quinoa when I visited Buenos Aires, of all places. The beef was great, as I expected, but the upscale restaurants were serving grilled seafood accompanied by simple quinoa – cooked in water and minimally flavored.
Quinoa is technically a seed, but we cook it and serve it as a grain. It has a pleasantly chewy texture and a rich, nutty flavor that requires very little added flavoring – in fact, I like mine best cooked in salted water, with just a drizzle of olive oil.
How to cook quinoa? Most quinoa recipes say to cook 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups water, but I find this ratio produces mushy quinoa, so I use just 1.5 cups water per each cup of quinoa.
The following quinoa recipe is very easy – cook the quinoa in salted water, then, when still hot, mix with a simple dressing of olive oil, garlic, black pepper, basil and cilantro. I find that when it comes to quinoa, simple is best – you want to highlight the taste of the grain, not to overshadow it.
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1½ cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. This gets rid of its bitter coating.
- Place the rinsed quinoa, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat.Lower heat to medium-low and cook 15-17 minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, garlic and pepper in a small bowl.
- When quinoa is done, remove from heat. Transfer to a serving bowl, fluff with a fork, add the dressing and the herbs and mix. Serve immediately.