17 Ways To Make Quinoa Taste Better, Because Dinner Should Never Be Boring
Quinoa is one of those foods that can be delicious, or it can turn out bland and boring. If you've only experienced the latter, you need to keep reading to find out how to make quinoa taste better, because seriously, you're missing out.
Quinoa has been around forever, but it wasn't until fairly recently that it gained a lot of popularity for being a majorly healthy superfood. Quinoa is a superfood superstar: it's high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, as well as being gluten-free and easy to digest. All of these healthier than thou qualities end up making it a turn-off for some people — they assume that because it's so good for you, it can't possibly taste good too. And while it is totally possible for quinoa to feel uninspired, it's also very possible to make it taste amazing.
As someone who has trouble digesting brown rice, hates white rice, and is allergic to barley, quinoa has been something of a godsend. I am obsessed with quinoa and make it constantly. Like most people, I began my quinoa journey by simply subbing it into brown rice dishes. It was good, but it wasn't incredible. So, I searched and asked around for tips, experimented, and ended up finding some truly mouthwatering ways to prepare quinoa. I'm here to tell you that if you haven't been thrilled with this grain, you're probably preparing it incorrectly. Read on for these 17 easy ways to make your quinoa taste better. And then get cooking!
1. Cook it in vegetable or chicken broth.
Quinoa on its own can be very bland (just like any other grain). If you'd like to add a bit more flavor, cook it in vegetable or chicken broth instead of water (or do half and half). This instantly spices up your quinoa in the easiest way possible.
2. Add herbs such as thyme, basil, or oregano.
Another way to easily and quickly make quinoa taste better without adding other foods is to add herbs and spices. I personally love adding thyme, salt, and pepper to my quinoa, but you can add whatever you want — basil, oregano, maybe even some red pepper.
3. Toast it in oil for a minute or two before you boil it.
To make quinoa, you mix it with water, bring to a boil, then let simmer until it's done. But to make it extra delicious, toast the quinoa in olive oil first. Add a tablespoon (or more) of olive oil to the pot on medium heat, then add the quinoa. Let it toast until the quinoa browns but doesn't burn (usually about two to three minutes), then add water. It really makes a big difference.
4. Add tiny chopped up pieces of garlic or onion.
As an Italian, one of my favorite ways to add flavor to anything is to add a whole bunch of garlic. Quinoa is no exception. Roast or sautee minced garlic, and then add it to your quinoa once it's finished. You could also sautee some chopped up onions if you're into that kind of flavor as well.
5. Sweeten up your quinoa by cooking it like oatmeal.
Savory quinoa with vegetables and a protein is great. But sweet quinoa for breakfast? It might be better. Love and Lemons has this terrific quinoa breakfast bowl recipe that is so easy to make and super versatile. Use the recipe as a base, then add whatever fruit and toppings you want. I think I might like it better than regular oats, personally.
6. Add cheese.
The trick to making almost any food in the world taste better is to add cheese, and quinoa is obviously no exception. This creamy caprese quinoa bake from Half-Baked Harvest is the perfect way to add cheese, and make your quinoa beyond amazing. After something like this, you'll never see quinoa the same way again.
7. Mix quinoa with breadcrumbs.
When most people think of quinoa, they think of it as a boring, healthy side dish with some veggies. But as this list proves, you can do a lot more with it than you think. This recipe from Half-Baked Harvest mixes quinoa with panko breadcrumbs to create an awesome zucchini and eggplant parmesan dish.
8. Use it in vegetarian chili.
As someone who doesn't eat meat, I can tell you that finding a satisfying meat-free chili recipe can be difficult. But I've found that adding quinoa can make a huge difference. It makes your chili more hearty without making it taste too much like a grain, you know? This vegan and gluten-free recipe from Making Thyme For Health just might convert you.
9. Cook it with less water.
Look at any quinoa box, and you'll see that the directions say to make it with one part quinoa, two parts water (so, one cup of quinoa and two cups of water). But The Kitchn makes a compelling argument for using less water — less water makes quinoa less mushy, and more light. If you've found that you dislike quinoa because it's too much like mush, this might be what you need to do.
10. Make it into quinoa pudding.
Maybe you want your quinoa to be more like a dessert than just a boring grain. OK! Similar to quinoa oatmeal is quinoa pudding. This delicious recipe from Half-Baked Harvest calls for you to make your quinoa slowly with coconut milk, various sugar, and fruit for a very unexpected treat.
11. Add some heat.
Looking for something with more of a kick? This idea from Good Life Eats is for you. Add cilantro and roasted poblano peppers to your quinoa for a little bit of heat. It's easy and delicious!
12. Bake it into muffins.
I know it sounds beyond weird to add quinoa to baked goods, but trust me, this recipe is not weird. Half-Baked Harvest gives us these sweet potato, quinoa, and dark chocolate coconut crumble crunch muffins that you absolutely need to try.
13. Use quinoa in homemade veggie burgers.
Making your own veggie burgers isn't as hard as you might think, especially when you have an ingredient like quinoa, which is hearty and holds things together. These black bean quinoa burgers from Love and Lemons will become your new favorite.
14. Use quinoa in homemade granola.
In case you haven't caught on yet, quinoa makes for great breakfast food. If you're not into mushy grains, then try this granola recipe from Naturally Ella. It's baked with almonds and maple syrup for a sweet, crunchy finish that is perfect on top of yogurt.
15. Add it to soup.
Quinoa is probably my favorite grain to add to soups. It's filling and makes soups more hearty without taking over. Some grains, like barley or farro, are so needy and demand all of the attention when you're eating a soup. But quinoa is less obvious and goes well with almost anything. Try this quinoa tortilla soup recipe from Making Thyme For Health, which, bonus, can be made in a slow cooker.
16. Let it soak and sprout.
As strange as it may sound, a lot of people swear by sprouting their quinoa. This basically means letting it sit in water overnight until it forms little sprouts. According to Making Thyme For Health, this helps reduce the amount of "phytic acid (or phytates) which is thought to block the absorption of important minerals as well as reduce the digestibility of starches, protein, and fat."
17. Add coconut.
A touch of sweetness is always a good way to make something taste better. This simple recipe from Good Life Eats mixes quinoa with coconut oil and coconut milk for a sweet and savory side dish.
For more ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.
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