Quinoa – pronounced Keen-Wah is the ‘go-to’ food for healthy meals.

However, like its sister staple rice, it can be tricky to cook. Not enough water in the cooking process and the grain like texture is too crunchy and moreover will absorb any liquids afterwards. If you are adding a dressing then this can result in too strong a flavour as the undercooked quinoa soaks up too much.

However, if you follow the ‘cover the quinoa with water’ brigade then you can end up with mushy and overcooked food.

So, in the pursuit of perfect quinoa the trick is to use exactly twice as much water as quinoa. Cook in an uncovered pan until the quinoa has absorbed all the water. Once this has happened, remove the pan from the heat and let the quinoa steam. After about five minutes you should find the quinoa has ‘popped’ open into a lovely fluffy condition. Now you have perfect quinoa.

To be pedantic here is the perfect recipe:


  • 1 part uncooked quinoa (e.g. 1 cup quinoa—any colour will do—you will end up with three times as much cooked quinoa as dry)
  • 2 parts water (e.g. 2 cups water)
  • Salt, to taste (around ¼ teaspoon salt per cup of quinoa)


  1. Rinse the quinoa: Pour the quinoa into a fine mesh colander and rinse under running water for at least 30 seconds. Drain well. This step removes any bitterness on the outside of the quinoa.
  2. Combine the rinsed quinoa and water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat a bit to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, about 10 to 20 minutes (small amounts of quinoa will be ready closer to 10 minutes; larger amounts between 15 to 20). Reduce heat as time goes on to maintain a gentle simmer.
  3. Remove the pot from heat, cover, and let the quinoa steam for 5 minutes. This step gives the quinoa time to pop open into little curlicues, so it's nice and fluffy. Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Season with salt, to taste, unless you’re proceeding with another recipe as written.

Serving Suggestions:

Drizzle olive oil and clove of garlic into warm quinoa for extra flavour. Other options include chopped fresh spinach or rocket. Fresh herbs and/or dried spices are nice, as well as grated or crumbled cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, pitted and sliced olives, etc.

Storage Suggestions:

Leftover quinoa keeps well, refrigerated, for 4 to 5 days. Make sure it has cooled to room temperature before covering and chilling.


October 30, 2023 — Chisom Onwukwe

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