Roasted Quinoa Pilaf

Most people are aware of this nutritious grain, but cooking it seems to present a number of challenges.

The first step in cooking any grain is to understand how much water will be absorbed during the cooking period. Next, the time and cooking temperature are important to know to create the proper texture…and digestibility. Finally, seasoning insures the final outcome will be tasty.

Quinoa will absorb about 1 3/4 times its weight in water content, plus some water will be lost through evaporation, but I control the amount by keeping the pot covered for most of the cooking period. Quinoa, like most grains, does not like to be aggressively cooked, so I like to keep the temperature to a simmer – just strong enough to keep a slight bubble going. This also means I cook quinoa a bit longer than most packages will state. Salting the water before cooking is important to get the seasoning in the grain. But be careful – it is very easy to over-salt pilafs because most people forget to take into consideration the salt concentration after evaporation.

One of the best ways to really give grains a pop in flavor is to toast them before cooking in water or broth. This toasting technique will create an incredibly rich flavor and help the grain absorb the moisture evenly.

Finally, be sure to take the time to rest the pilaf after cooking – usually with some paper towels draped over the top and the pot covered. This allows for excess water absorption and creates that irresistible fluffiness.

Yield: about 4-6 servings

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