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How to properly toast Quinoa?

I recently had a Citrus salad with toasted Quinoa at a NYC restaurant and am inspired to make my own version. I'm a bit confused if I need to rinse the quinoa first to remove the saponins even if its says "pre washed." And if not, whats the best way to (rinse and) toast quinoa so I can get perfect crunchy, separate seeds?

Answer »
SKK added almost 2 years ago
Voted the Best Answer!

Martha Shulman's recipe for quiona is brilliant. I love it because it is never mushy. Yes, always rinse, it can't hurt. Here is Shulman's recipe:

Place the quinoa in a bowl, and cover with cold water. Let sit five minutes. Drain through a strainer, and rinse until the water runs clear.
Heat medium saucepan or lidded skillet over medium-high heat, and add the quinoa. Toast, stirring, until the grains have separated and begin to smell fragrant. Add the water or stock and salt. It should come to a boil quickly. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and translucent and each grain displays a little thread. Drain and return to the pan. Cover the pan with a clean dish towel, replace the lid and allow to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.

All these points are important - from rinsing to toasting to covering the the pan with a clean dishcloth.

Benny added almost 2 years ago

What is the purpose of covering with the dish towel AND the lid?

paseo added almost 2 years ago

Benny - the lid traps heat and the dishtowel absorbs any moisture which might drip back on the grains. Do the same while finishing rice.

Lost_in_NYC added almost 2 years ago

Thanks SKK!

Stupid follow up question: is it necessary to boil the quinoa after I toast it in the dry pan ( and after rinsing it)?

First time quinoa user so I'm just trying to fully understand the nature of the beast here...

SKK added almost 2 years ago

No question is stupid - and congratulations on launching your quinoa cooking career! You are correct in rinsing first, then toasting it. Absolutely you must bring it to a boil quickly and then simmer it per the instructions above. The simmering is what cooks it, the toasting adds a depth of flavor. Enjoy!

Lost_in_NYC added almost 2 years ago

Okay so I decided to experiment and came out with two different results. I measured and rinsed 1 cup of quinoa as per standard procedure (used TJ's Organic Quinoa).

1) I dry toasted a half cup of quinoa in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Since the quinoa was wet and a little water got into the pan, I had to wait for the excess moisture to evaporate first (did this on low-medium heat). Once the all the water was gone, I increased the heat to medium-high and toasted the quinoa for maybe about ~20-25 minutes (I have an old electric stove in an NYC apt so please adjust to your stove/heat source accordingly). I heard the popping sounds and smelled the nuttiness of the grain release. I decided to brown the quinoa all the way until I only saw small specks of white in the skillet. Transferred the really toasted quinoa to a bowl to cool. Once cooled, it was extremely crunchy and amazing! I made a quick salad for lunch and added the toasted quinoa as a crunch element. It was divine!! (and it reminded me of the salad I had a few weeks ago!)

2) I toasted the second half of the washed quinoa in the same non-stick skillet as above. First I had to let the excess water evaporate and then I only toasted the quinoa until it was half toasted. I could still smell nuttiness of the grain release after about ~10-15 minutes. It came out to a light brown color. Then I transferred it to a rice cooker to let it cook under the same 2:1 cup proportions that is standard across the board. (Added some salt for flavor). It came out nicely but I think cooking the toasted quinoa loses some of its nutty flavor. I'll use this for something else but I enjoyed this as well.

I think method one is great if you want a crunch factor to your dish and method 2 is more diverse if you want to use quinoa as a proper meal. Any which way, hope you'll enjoy it!

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