Complete Guide: How To Cook Quinoa | Mount Zero Olives

October 7, 2021

Your step-by-step guide to perfectly cooked quinoa

Hailing from the Andes in South America, this seed has gained superfood status all around the world thanks to its plethora of nutritional benefits, including:

  • Quinoa is high in protein and fibre – a cup of quinoa contains twice as much protein and 5 grams more fibre than a cup of white rice.
  • Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids.
  • Quinoa is high in minerals – 3x calcium, 5x iron, 8x potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and 2x manganese in comparison to white rice.
  • Quinoa has a low glycemic index (GI).
  • Quinoa is naturally gluten-free – great news for coeliac friends!

With so many proven health gains, who wouldn’t want to learn how to cook quinoa? 

Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, has a similar texture to popular grains (such as rice, farro and barley), a relatively fast cooking time and a yummy nutty flavour, so you can easily enjoy it as a substitute for rice, farro, couscous or even oats in your morning porridge.

Are you keen to bring more soft, filling and downright delish quinoa into your cooking repertoire? We feel you. This article will give you helpful hints for preparing quinoa as well as stunning chef-designed recipes.

But first things first, let’s find out how to cook the perfect scrummy and fluffy quinoa every time.

How to cook quinoa on the stovetop

There are many different techniques, ratios, methods and hacks floating around for cooking quinoa. Here are our simple steps to prepare quinoa on the stove:

Step 1. Place 1 cup of Mount Zero Organic Quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under running cold water for about 30 seconds. Drain well. Note: 1 cup uncooked quinoa = 3 cups of cooked quinoa (or about 6 side dishes or 3 main portions).

Step 2. Transfer the rinsed quinoa to a medium saucepan and add 2 cups of water. Over medium-high heat bring the quinoa to the boil, then lower the temperature to medium-low and cover with a lid.

Step 3. Allow the quinoa to gently simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. When preparing a cup of dry quinoa, it should completely absorb all the water in around 15 minutes. If there’s still water at the bottom of the saucepan after 15 minutes, cook it for a little bit longer until the water is absorbed. 

Step 4. Remove from the heat and let your quinoa sit covered for about 10 minutes (this step is the secret to beautiful fluffy, light and succulent quinoa).

Step 5. Your quinoa is ready when it appears fluffy and the seed has popped where the little tail bits start to bend away. Fluff your quinoa with a fork and it’s ready to eat in warm dishes right away or allow to cool for cold salads and the like.

Note: Your quinoa will keep for up to a week in the fridge (making it a star ingredient for meal prepping) and is best enjoyed within 2-3 months after freezing.

Handy hints for preparing flavoursome quinoa

Here are our extra tips to make your quinoa taste even better:

  • Before cooking, toast your dry quinoa in a frypan with a couple of tablespoons of premium extra virgin olive oil and butter for extra creaminess. Toss the quinoa until it starts to turn slightly golden, usually after about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it to avoid burning.
  • Swap out the 2 cups of water for 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock for richer flavoured quinoa. Add a dash of white wine to your stock for a little extra kick.
  • Enhance the flavour of plain quinoa after cooking by seasoning with salt and pepper, tossing through fresh lemon or lime juice, pitted olives, fresh herbs, coconut oil, roasted nuts or lemon pressed extra virgin olive oil.

Our go-to quinoa recipes

Now that you’re armed with the steps to cook the perfect quinoa every single time, you’ll want to put your newfound knowledge to good use.

So, we’ve developed this list of chef-designed recipes that really allow the flavour and texture of quinoa to shine.

Roasted quail and grape salad with quinoa

Head Chef Nicky Riemer shares her decadent roasted quail and grape quinoa salad recipe.

Nicky Riemer, Head Chef at Bellota Wine Bar, dishes up the secrets to prepare her sublime roast quail and quinoa salad. Experience the ideal blend of sweet and salty flavours, with pancetta-wrapped quail, and the exciting addition of red grapes, toasted almond flakes and orange juice dressing to the quinoa salad.

View the full recipe

Roast quinoa salad with nashi pear, hazelnut, sultanas and rocket

Cook Almay Jordaan takes us through the steps to achieve this delightfully fresh nashi pear quinoa salad.

Cook and owner of Neighbourhood Wine Bar, Almay Jordaan recommends toasting the quinoa before cooking to enhance its mouthwatering nutty flavour in this recipe. She combines hazelnuts, nashi pear, verjuice soaked sultanas, rocket leaves, shallot, Mount Zero Frantoio EVOO for the dressing with the toasted quinoa. Almay recommends adding a dollop of creamy goat’s curd to turn the salad into a light meal.

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Macadamia and quinoa crusted barramundi with fennel, apple and citrus salad

Chef Sam Smith divulges the details to make deliciously crispy macadamia and quinoa crusted barramundi.

Chef Sam Smith, of North Bondi’s hip cafe Porch and Parlour, focuses on showcasing stellar Australian ingredients for this recipe. He encourages home cooks to source sustainably farmed barra, Mount Zero quinoa, gluten-free bread, fennel, green apple, orange, lime, grapefruit and plenty of fresh herbs to make the ultimate fish and citrusy salad combo.

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Stir-fried quinoa with fragrant oriental vegetables

Chef Paul Wilson talks us through his aromatic stir-fried quinoa loaded with veggies and diced bacon or tofu.

One of Melbourne’s iconic chefs, Paul Wilson, lets us know how to prepare a quinoa stir fry with a mouthwatering honey soy dressing. He suggests loading up your stir fry with all your fave veggies and swapping bacon or prawns out for tofu or tempeh if you’d prefer.

View the full recipe

Check out more inspiring quinoa recipes.

With such incredible nutritional value and being so simple to cook, it’s easy to get this superfood into your diet so your body can start reaping the rewards. 

Now that we have the method down pat and all the handy hints to make quinoa as tasty as possible, all that’s left to do is pick a recipe and get cooking! Who’s ready to pick up some quinoa?