Quinoa can be substituted for rice or any grain in many meals, but here are a few simple ways to cook it for a side dish.
1. Basic cooking instructions
Cook 1 part grain to 2 parts water. Boil and reduce to low for 10 minutes covered. I then typically leave mine covered in a pot for five more minutes, but that isn't necessary per say.
2. Change the liquid medium and seasonings used
I like mine best cooked in chicken broth for typical dinner side dishes, but can do beef or coconut milk too. Sometimes I add seasonings during cooking, but never salt or pepper until the end, because salt actually inhibits some grains from absorbing as we'll.
3. Add variety
I like to use a teaspoon curry powder during cooking (try with coconut milk) and craisins (during cooking for plump, moistness or after..either works). Then top with cashews. This is very couscous feeling and was the first attempt I made cooking quinoa for my moms birthday years ago.
We also make a Mac-quinoa and Cheese baked recipe with milk, cheese, egg that is fairly simple and my 2 year old likes it. We typically add peas or ou could do small broccoli pieces or something. This is a basic casserole dish you can add lots of variety to.
My favorite way is just to cook in chicken broth then add shredded spinach right at the end with the burner off. Then I cover the pot for those last five minutes and let the spinach wilt enough that its warm. Then top with salt and pepper and feta cheese.
Another super simple way is to just cook it plain and add crushed nuts and salt and pepper on it at the end.
And my favorite way to stuff red peppers is cooking quinoa in beef broth after first sautéing onions, garlic, ginger and cumin powder. Then top with cilantro and salt and pepper. (I think I got them all, but check out my stuffed red pepper recipe for sure, in case I missed something).
I do a basic mexican type casserole with it too by adding corn, black beans, salsa, etc.
But if you cook it plain, then you can save some for a breakfast oatmeal or for a rice pudding type dessert. At night I sometimes just add milk and raisins and cinnamon and give it to Ethan for a cold dessert. Warm the same thing up for a hot breakfast (add a drop of lemon juice to help with the flavor if you want).