​Ingredients Glossary: Quinoa

​Ingredients Glossary: Quinoa

Posted by Emily on 1st Dec 2019

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa consists of tiny, bead-like seeds, which are more commonly categorised alongside grains. These seeds sprout a tiny tail when cooked and boast a subtly nutty flavour as well as a firm texture.

Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa is a complete protein source, encompassing all eight essential amino acids. The United Nations has recognised it as a 'supercrop' due to its multiple health benefits. These include a high content of dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. Additionally, it is gluten-free and easy on the digestive system. All these attributes suggest that quinoa is as close to an ideal ingredient as one could hope for.

How to Prepare Quinoa

Quinoa is straightforward to prepare, and its fluffy consistency combined with its mildly nutty taste provides an excellent substitute for white rice or couscous. When cooked, the grains expand to about four times their original size and adopt a nearly translucent appearance.

Quinoa is typically prepared like rice. It generally needs rinsing or soaking before cooking to eliminate its bitter outer coating, so do check the packet for specific instructions. To cook, bring two cups of water to a boil for every one cup of quinoa. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for roughly 15 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ should retain a slight 'al dente' quality.

How to Cook Quinoa

Quinoa can be utilised in much the same way as rice. It works well in stuffings, pilafs, and even breakfast cereals. Consider trying quinoa porridge or quinoa and apricot muffins. For a different take on a roast, attempt a stuffed butternut squash with quinoa, or for a refreshing summer salad, opt for a California quinoa and avocado salad.

How to Store Quinoa

Uncooked quinoa can be stored in a dark, cool environment for up to a year. Once cooked, it should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge.


Quinoa is obtainable from larger supermarkets as well as health food shops. It can be purchased either dry, located next to other grains, or in ready-to-eat pouches.