3 years ago

I want to cut out the usual starchy carbs and saw your column last week which mentioned quinoa. Mine always turns out a bitter, stodgy disaster! Any tips or quick recipes?


Hey Chloe!

I`ll level with you - that "rinse thoroughly before cooking" advice you always ignore (come on, be honest!) is actually essential when you`re cooking quinoa. It`s covered in a bitter tasting coating called saponin so rinse it under running water in a fine-mesh sieve for a minute.

Next up, boil double the amount of water to quinoa (e.g. 200ml to 100g) in a pan and add a bit of vegetable or chicken stock to boost the flavour. Add in your rinsed quinoa, stick a lid on and cook on medium/low heat for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes take the pan off the heat, remove the lid and cover in a clean tea towel for 10 minutes. Finally, fluff up the quinoa using a fork and get stuck in.

My advice is to cook up a big batch so that you have enough for lunch or dinner the next day and if you really want to show off... Here`s my three favourite quick recipes to pimp your quinoa:

The Skin Booster: Get yourself a perfectly ripe avocado (give it a little squeeze before peeling and if it`s just soft you`re good to go), slice into it lengthways around the stone and pull apart. Slide your knife around the edge to pop the aovcado out, then chop it into chunks. Mix it into your quinoa with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, a squeeze of lemon juice, top it all off with a runny, poached egg and a drizzle of olive oil. Avocados are packed full of skin nourishing antioxidants, vitamins E and C. Together with sunflower seeds you`ll get a great kick of omega fatty acids too. Basically your skin`s going to think Christmas came early.

The Power Plate: (pictured) Protein isn`t just for the beefcakes and a healthy dose for dinner will give your gym-sore muscles the overnight nourishment they need. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. Dice up a courgette and a red pepper and mix them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Rub olive oil into a chicken breast and season well. Cook everything on the top shelf for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes chop up the chicken and mix everything into your quinoa with chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime juice.

The Lover`s Lunch: Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Peel and chop a couple of beetroots and a red onion into 6 wedges. Toss the ingredients in a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Roast on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes until crispy around the edges. Gently mix into your quinoa with a handful of chopped mint and a drizzle of olive oil. Beetroot is full of iron and folic acid, but more importantly it`s been considered an aphrodisiac since Roman times. Best served with a Chris de Burgh soundtrack.

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