Between the 1980s and today, quinoa rose from being an obscure South American crop to the status of “superfood.” Quinoa is not a difficult plant to grow. It will thrive in harsh climates and poor soils, producing spinach-like greens and abundant quantities of tiny seeds. Like amaranth and buckwheat, Quinoa is not a true grain. Unlike grains, its proteins contain all the essential amino acids, with an unusually high ratio of protein-to-carbohydrates, which is a plus for dieters. This is also a benefit for vegetarians, because quinoa doesn’t need to be eaten with legumes to provide complete proteins. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, and fiber.
Puffed quinoa only becomes slightly larger, but ‘popping’ it gives it a lighter texture and a crisp surface, as well as a nuttier flavor.
To make your own popped quinoa, follow these simple directions.
Note—Rinse the quinoa first, then lay it out flat on a tray to dry for at least ½ hour or until thoroughly dry (-might want to do this overnight)
- Preheat a pan with tall sides. You will know that the pan is hot enough when you add a pinch of quinoa kernels to it and they pop within a few seconds.
- Add quinoa to the pan in a single layer.
- When quinoa starts popping, lift the pan off the burner. Swirl and shake the pan so that the quinoa cooks evenly without burning (-decrease the heat if the quinoa appears to be starting to burn.) Note that the quinoa should be well-popped in only a few seconds.
- Immediately remove popped quinoa from the pan.
- Use as desired, or as suggested below:
How to Use Popped Quinoa
There are countless uses for popped quinoa, but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Sprinkle onto yogurt
- Add to granola
- Top a salad
- Mix with Popcorn as a snack
- Use it as a crunchy topper for a casserole
- Sprinkle onto oatmeal or other hot cereals
- Sprinkle on soups
- Sprinkle on stir-fried vegetables
- Sprinkle on stir-fried rice or other rice dishes
- Mix with a small amount of brown sugar and sprinkle on puddings