Quinoa is one of those ingredients that is so good for you that I’ve tried very hard to fall in love with it. It hasn’t gone well — I’ve had many an acceptable quinoa dish, but never one that got me too excited. But I think maybe I finally have the answer to to my quinoa apathy and all it takes is a few minutes in a hot, dry pan.
At some point or another you may have, out of curiosity, sampled uncooked kernels of quinoa and noticed they are pretty much rock hard and unappealing. And boiling quinoa as a fluffy couscous like side dish is OK, but I always find myself wishing I were eating some other grain. The popping, however, transforms the tiny kernels into something altogether different: happy little crunchies with a neutral but lightly toasted flavor. And you can sprinkle them on just about anything — savory or sweet. Consider them as a nutrition packed topping for yogurt, cereal or PB&J sammies or how about sprinkled into granola, over salads, rice bowls, roasted veggies, or risotto? So many possibilities…
Try this for something quick, fun (and healthy too!)
Use quinoa that is washed if you can otherwise you can rinse it, drain it and let it dry on a sheet tray in a low oven.
- Have an empty bowl next to the stove at the ready so you can transfer the quinoa seeds as soon as they are toasted.
- Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Add a small pinch of quinoa seeds and stand by until you start to hear popping sounds. When you do, you know the pan is hot enough.
- Add a thin layer of quinoa to the pan and stir to toast the kernels evenly. Keep stirring until there’s lots of popping in the pan and the quinoa takes on a medium, golden, toasty color. Immediately transfer the quinoa to the empty bowl so that it doesn’t keep cooking in the residual heat of the pan.
- Sprinkle them on everything!
In case you’re interested in fluffy, steamed quinoa, this is a good method: “How to Cook Fluffy, Tasty Quinoa” (The Kitchn)