Quinoa has risen to the top when it comes to alternative choices to rice. Touted as a superfood (a term that doesn’t have a regulated definition), many folks wax poetic about quinoa’s positive attributes ― it is, after all, the best source of complete protein for vegetarians.
We’re on board, except for one major flaw: sometimes quinoa tastes like dirt. We rinse it, drain it, rinse it again. Bring a pot of water to a boil, simmer the quinoa for over 15 minutes, take a bite and ... dirt.
If this experience sounds familiar you might be asking yourself, “Why is my quinoa so dirty?”
We have good news ― it’s not. That off flavor you may taste is not dirt, it’s not soap, it’s just saponin.
Saponin is a naturally occurring chemical that’s found in many plant structures. It coats every tiny grain of quinoa and serves an important purpose ― to ward off insects and deter birds ― but it tastes bitter, even soapy. That’s the flavor that most folks mistake for dirt. Pre-rinsed quinoa helps get rid of that taste, but not always completely. While you might not like the flavor lingering on your quinoa, at least you know it’s not dirt.
To minimize the dirt taste, rinse quinoa under running water in a fine mesh sieve for at least a minute, moving the quinoa around with your fingers until the water runs clean.
Once you’ve done this you should be in the clear. You’ll be ready to add it to your breakfast routine with the recipes below ― it’s a nice change from eggs, and still will help you start the day with lots of protein.