I recently had the good fortune to win a Zojirushi Umami Rice Cooker via the lovely bell'alimento. Though I was super excited to win it, I honestly thought it would be one of those gadgets that I used once or twice and then put on a high shelf to collect dust... I think we all have a few of those, right?
Much to my surprise, I've found that I've been using it nearly daily since it arrived on my doorstep!
What I didn't realize beforehand is that rice cookers are useful far beyond just preparing a simple batch of rice. I've had loads of fun experimenting with this wonderful gadget, and I'm excited to share some of my findings with you, starting with how to make quinoa in a rice cooker.
First of all, if you haven't tried quinoa yet, you really ought to ASAP. Yeah, I was skeptical too, but my family has quickly grown to love the nutty taste and firm texture. Some people don't care for it plain -- I happen to love it when it's prepared with chicken stock -- but either way, it's a fantastic base for a number of quick and easy side dishes, like this simple quinoa and cherry tomato salad I'm sharing on GoodLife Eats today.
While preparing quinoa in a rice cooker isn't necessarily a faster method of cooking quinoa, much like my beloved baked hard boiled eggs, it's a more hands-off cooking method, allowing me to focus my attentions elsewhere without worrying about pans boiling over.
My favorite brand currently is Bob's Red Mill Organic Quinoa. Their quinoa is pre-rinsed, saving me a step before cooking. If you purchase a different brand, be sure to check the package carefully to see whether it needs to be rinsed or not. If it does, simply place the amount of quinoa you're planning to cook in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it thoroughly with cold water.
The cooking settings will vary based on your particular rice cooker. I'd consider the Zojirushi Umami Rice Cooker to be the cadillac of rice cookers, with a lot of fun settings to play with. I typically just use the quick cook setting, and my quinoa is ready within about 30 minutes, including a few minutes of resting time that the cooker automatically builds in at the end.
For a standard rice cooker, a single cycle should be all that's needed to produce fluffy quinoa. One the cooking cycle has completed, allow the quinoa to rest for about 4-5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
Have fun experimenting with mix-ins both during and after the cooking process! I'll often add some lemon zest or a little curry powder to the liquid and quinoa while cooking, and then I stir in a few chopped fresh veggies from our weekly CSA delivery after cooking, while the quinoa is still warm.
When I'm lucky enough to have leftovers, I add them to my salad at lunch the following day. I'm not much of a leftovers fan, but I love leftover quinoa!
Have you tried quinoa? And if so, what's your favorite way to serve it?
Note: If you're looking for a budget rice cooker, I've heard that this Oster Rice Cooker is a good, basic model.