Marketed as an "ancient grain," quinoa is gaining popularity among modern diners as well. It's simple to cook, with a process similar to rice, and it's an incredibly versatile ingredient that can form the base for pilafs and porridges or punch up savory salads and casseroles. Due to its impressive nutritional profile and high protein content, quinoa is especially popular with vegetarians, vegans and the health-conscious. One cup of cooked quinoa has more than 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and just 130 calories. Quinoa has a neutral, earthy flavor that pairs well with many other foods, but roasting it brings out depth and nuttiness and is worth the extra few minutes it takes.
Roasting quinoa in the oven takes slightly longer than it does on the stovetop, but it's a great way to get an even roast throughout and an appealing, crispy texture. When oven-roasting, check your quinoa every couple of minutes to prevent burning.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a fine-mesh sieve. Rinsing removes the natural bitter coating on the seeds. Drain the quinoa thoroughly.
Place the quinoa in a shallow baking dish in a single layer.
Roast the quinoa in the oven for roughly 5 to 8 minutes, shaking the pan a bit halfway through for even cooking. Remove from the oven when the quinoa has a strong nutty fragrance and is golden in color. Be careful not to let the quinoa burn.
Roasting your quinoa on the stovetop is quick and convenient. The final product won't be quite as crispy, but you'll get a good depth of flavor for only a few minutes of work.
Rinse the quinoa well in a fine-mesh sieve. Drain the quinoa as thoroughly as possible. Prepare a large frying pan by warming it over medium-low heat with a small amount of canola oil in it. Pour the quinoa into the pan.
Stir the quinoa constantly as it cooks to prevent burning. You can also gently shake and flip the quinoa to ensure the seeds toast evenly. If the quinoa sticks to the pan, add another small drizzle of oil and work to distribute the oil evenly around the pan.
Remove the pan from the heat after about 1 minute, as soon as the quinoa looks dry and golden in color and has a strong, nutty fragrance. Be careful not to burn the quinoa.
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Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.