The first few times I made quinoa at home, I was thoroughly unimpressed.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it–I just didn’t understand what the hubbub was about. I knew that quinoa had a higher protein and vitamin content, thus making it an effective substitute for “empty” carbs such as white rice. But I couldn’t get over the slightly-bitter taste at the end, nor the slightly-slimy consistency. The little strings, or the germs, that extended from each individual grain were also not appetizing. At the time, I decided that the nutritional value of quinoa did not trump the less appealing parts of eating it.
Everything changed when I read this article on CNN’s Eatocracy site, written by America’s Test Kitchen. Apparently, I (and many other cooks) have been instructed to cook quinoa incorrectly! Armed with this knowledge in hand, I decided to give quinoa another shot; the result was absolutely delicious. Now I go through bags of quinoa quite easily, and most of them are used for this particular recipe.
When cooked correctly, quinoa is chewy, toasty, and nutty–flavors which I found very complimentary to milk and a touch of sugar. Although the use of milk instead of water makes this recipe more finicky, I believe the result is well-worth the effort. The mouthfeel of chewing on toasted quinoa instead of mushy oatmeal is fantastic–I haven’t gone back to making oatmeal in months. And as I mentioned above, quinoa is a great nutritional alternative to oatmeal or to cereal, both of which are largely empty in protein.
I will admit–there is a bit more effort involved since you’ll need to stir the quinoa consistently throughout its cooking time, but I believe it’s worth it for the flavor it will create. Make sure the heat only goes to medium at the highest and that the milk never goes above a light simmer; these precautions will go a long way in making the consistency, as well as the flavor, just perfect.
I’ve used strawberries for this particular photoshoot because they were what I had on-hand, but any ripe berry will do! I think you’ll be surprised by how much you like quinoa for breakfast, and I hope you’ll give it a try.
- 1 c. white quinoa
- 1½ c. milk
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- cinnamon (optional)
- fresh berries (recommended!)
- Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under running cold water. Drain well.
- Place the quinoa in a sauté pan and turn the stovetop heat to medium; no oil is necessary.
- Stir the quinoa frequently as the remaining moisture evaporates from the grains, ~1-2 minutes.
- Continue to stir the quinoa until the quinoa starts to pop, ~4-5 minutes.
- Turn the heat to medium low and pour the milk into the pan. It may bubble and sizzle upon contact but will soon level out.
- Cook the quinoa until the milk is fully absorbed by the grains. Stir somewhat frequently to prevent the milk from forming a protein film at the top.
- When the quinoa has mostly absorbed the milk, turn the heat off and stir in a pinch of salt and brown sugar. (If you’d like to add cinnamon, do so at this time.)
- Pour into two bowls and top with fresh berries and a splash of milk. Serve immediately, as it is best hot.