Quinoa has become a staple in my family so I cook it very frequently. I use it in salads, as a grain bowl, in patties and gourmet terrine recipes. I’ve found three different varieties red, white, black quinoa and have cooked with each for several occasions. Although white variety is the most commonly used but I find red and black as great colour complements to many of the dishes. The unique texture of each variety when cooked lends to preference of one over the other. Red quinoa holds its shape a bit better and looks stunningly gorgeous in salads whereas white quinoa is perfect for making patties etc. Black variety adds an attractive look to any dish with its bead like appearance. My favourite protein-rich quinoa patties with zucchini and mint salad recipe turned out delicious with the black variety.
As for nutrition experts say there are no significant differences between red, black and golden (white) varieties. All offer the same high quality nutrition with nutty texture and earthy flavour. The choice comes down to the appearance and slight difference in textures. As a rule of thumb I use the colour that I find most appealing for the recipe.
There is a slight variation in cooking time with white one being the quickest (appx 20-25 minitues0) and least crunchy. Black takes the longest 35-40 minutes with red variety somewhere in the middle.
Cooking time is reduced if you soak the grain for 30-60 minutes before cooking. As with all whole grains and pulses I recommend vigorous washing and rinsing of quinoa 3-4 times until water is clear, it helps to get rid of any residue pesticides and dirt. Quinoa naturally has a bitter coating which is removed with washing.
Quinoa can be cooked in saucepan or rice cooker with two parts liquid to one part grain.
With saucepan cooking I use medium-high heat for the first half of cooking time then reduce heat to low for remaining time. One cup dry quinoa yields about three cups cooked quantity. Use aromatic herbs like garlic, rosemary sprig and sean with salt to enhance flavour.