Q. I have recently discovered quinoa, and have been cooking it to add to soups, pilafs, salads, and casseroles. It makes a great substitute for rice or other grains, tastes great, and is full of nutrients. I love the crunchy texture and slightly nutty taste, and have been cooking it at least once a week. My only complaint is that I don’t like having to stand over the stove watching it to make sure it doesn’t burn. I would like to cook up some quinoa in the microwave if possible, but I’m not sure if that can be done. Can you microwave quinoa?
A. Yes, you can microwave quinoa! Quinoa is actually a seed, but it cooks and tastes much like a grain. It is certainly a nutritional powerhouse, and makes an excellent substitution for rice. It’s also naturally gluten free, so it makes a good option for those following a gluten free diet. It can be a bit bitter if not rinsed before cooking, so soak your quinoa for a few minutes and then strain the water out before cooking to improve the taste of the final product. It will be much more flavourful without any of the bitterness by adding that one small step to the cooking process.
Cooking quinoa in the microwave is certainly a faster alternative to cooking it on the stovetop, and requires much less active time on your part. You still have to make sure that you don’t burn it, and it requires some stand time at the end of the cooking process to fully absorb the liquid and to puff up nicely.
Start with the desired amount of rinsed and drained quinoa. Place the quinoa in a microwave safe dish. Add twice the amount of water to the bowl. For example, if you are cooking one cup of quinoa, add two cups of water or broth. Cook the quinoa on high for about 5 minutes. Take it out and stir it to mix everything together, then put it back in the microwave on medium for another 8 minutes. Check the quinoa about halfway through to check for doneness. Quinoa will uncurl and be translucent when cooked.
Remove the quinoa from the microwave and let stand for two or three minutes before fluffing it up with a fork. It can then be used in your favourite recipe. Refrigerate any unused portions.