How To Not Ruin Quinoa Pasta

Quinoa is great and so is pasta, but why is it that when they come together to create quinoa pasta, the results aren't always stellar? An alternative for those following gluten-free diets, this type of macaroni is almost like the real thing — that is, provided you know how to properly cook it. Luckily, we've got a few simple tricks that'll teach you how to never ruin quinoa pasta again!

In 2020, the global quinoa market was valued at $72 billion and is projected to reach $149 billion by 2026, reports Statista. The reason for this interest in quinoa? These little pearls have major nutritional benefits, which appeals to increasingly health-conscious consumers. In fact, Healthline notes that the whole grain is high in fiber and amino acids, plus quinoa is a great source of vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, and folate. 

Given that it can also be transformed into all sorts of other foods like pasta and baked goods, quinoa isn't going to be disappearing anytime soon. So, it's best you familiarize yourself with the quinoa-based penne, fusilli, and spaghetti currently storming grocery store shelves. Made by grounding quinoa seeds into a flour that's then turned into pasta, Cooks Dream explains that the noodles have a mildly nutty flavor and a texture that's fairly similar to traditional wheat pastas when cooked correctly.

Keep an eye on the time!

Since quinoa pearls are naturally coated with a compound called saponin, which can taste bitter, Southern Living reports that it's common to rinse quinoa before cooking. However, that's one step you can avoid when it comes to quinoa pasta.

Generally speaking, quinoa pasta cooks just like any other macaroni. Simply add dry pasta to a pot of salted, boiling water and cook until al dente. However, watch the time carefully as quinoa pasta tends to cook significantly faster than wheat pasta — think 7 to 9 minutes rather than the standard 8 to 12 minutes. Reducing cook times, according to Ancient Harvest, is the key to preventing your pasta from turning into a gooey and gummy mess. Their tutorial also recommends checking for firmness as you cook and stirring a few times to make sure the pasta is not sticking to itself or the pot.

Since food continues to cook even after being removed from heat, GoGo Quinoa further advises quickly rinsing your pasta under cool water, after draining. Doing this will shock the noodles and promptly stop the cooking process. The only thing left to transform your quinoa pasta game is deciding how to top it. Our advice? Try out this pumpkin seed pesto for a burst of luxurious squash flavor that's bound to impress even the toughest of dinnertime critics!