Popped Quinoa

Did you know you could pop quinoa, just like you can with corn? Popped quinoa makes a really healthy crunchy snack.

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Serves: 1-2 • Prep Time: 2 mins • Cook Time: 5 mins

Straight from the Forq Kitchen!
by Becca Pusey


Popped Quinoa

I know these pictures may make it look like I’m just sharing a bowl of raw quinoa with you today, but it’s actually popped quinoa. It’s like popcorn… but made with quinoa!

Of course, the transformation from quinoa to popped quinoa is evidently not as dramatic as that from corn to popcorn – it doesn’t explode outwards quite as violently. In fact, you have to look pretty closely to tell that the quinoa has been popped at all. But trust me, it has!

The end result has still got a lovely crunch, but it’s not tooth-breaking like raw quinoa is. Popped quinoa is a great healthy snack for those days when you really want something to crunch on, but don’t want to resort to a greasy bag of crisps.

I’m sure a lot of people aren’t even aware that quinoa can be popped, but it’s actually really simple to do. You don’t need any fancy equipment, just a deep pan and a stovetop – that’s it!

Although popping quinoa isn’t quite as much of a spectacle as popping corn, the science behind it is the same. As you heat the seeds and the water inside them gets hot, the pressure increases to the point where the water rapidly expands outwards, causing the quinoa seeds to pop. Since quinoa seeds are so much smaller than corn kernels, there’s less water inside them to cause the popping, and the effect isn’t as violent – but it happens nonetheless.

I’m sure a lot of people aren’t even aware that quinoa can be popped, but it’s actually really simple to do. You don’t need any fancy equipment, just a deep pan and a stovetop – that’s it! Just throw a couple of spoonfuls of quinoa into a hot, dry pan, and let it do its thing. You don’t even need to add any oil. All you need to do to help it along is to give the pan a shake every now and then to make sure it’s cooking evenly (we don’t want any burnt quinoa here!).
Every pan and every stove is different, so you might need to experiment a little to find the right temperature and the right technique – but once you’ve got it right, it’s pretty foolproof. After a minute or two, the quinoa seeds will start to fly across the pan, making an awesome popping sound. It may be quieter than the sound corn makes as it pops, but it’s just as exciting!

To prove that I really am showing you popped quinoa here and I’m not just cheating with a bowl of raw quinoa, here’s a little video of the quinoa popping. As you can see, each seed of quinoa flies a few inches in the air (hence the need for quite a deep pan!), making a lovely noise as it pops. It almost sounds like a constant crackling noise. I kept the pan still while making the video for obvious reasons, but as I said, you can help speed the process up by shaking the pan gently over the heat.

I can’t tell you how many time I’ve watched this video, trying to keep my eye on a quinoa seed to watch it pop, but it’s nearly impossible! But rest assured, it’s happening!

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Don’t overcrowd your pan, otherwise the quinoa on top won’t be in direct contact with the heat (and after all, it’s the heat that’s going to cause the popping). So make sure your quinoa is laid out in a single layer in the pan; as you can see, I only added a couple of tablespoons of quinoa to the pan at a time. It only takes a couple of minutes for it to all pop, so it’s easy to do a few batches one after the other; just transfer the popped quinoa to a bowl while you work on the next batch.

Once you’ve made your popped quinoa, you can serve it however you fancy. I like to serve it just how I would serve popcorn, with a little bit of icing sugar (which is why my popped quinoa looks a tiny bit powdery in the photos). If you prefer a savoury snack to crunch on, try melted butter with chilli flakes or a touch of grated parmesan cheese. The combinations are endless, so play around to find your favourite version (any excuse to make multiple batches!).

Because of the tiny size of the quinoa seeds, you can’t grab handfuls of popped quinoa in the same way you can with popcorn, so it’s not really the sort of thing you’d want to take to the cinema – but, if you lick your finger and dip it in your dish, you’ll pick up a nice little mouthful. Hey, I never said this was the sort of thing to eat in polite company! More like something you’d give to kids (or adults!) who like to play with their food and get a bit messy. Sticky fingers all round!

Popped quinoa also makes a great addition to other dishes, especially breakfast dishes. Can’t be bothered to boil a pan of water first thing in the morning (who can?)? Just pop your quinoa quickly in a dry pan, and sprinkle it over yogurt, fruit, or whatever else you fancy. Or, later in the day, popped quinoa is even great sprinkled over salads as an alternative to croutons!

Have you ever tried making popped quinoa – or popped anything else? What do you think would be your favourite toppings? Let us know over on the FORQ app!

Directions

Here’s how to make this delicious recipe

Heat a deep pan over a fairly high heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of uncooked quinoa to the pan, and allow it to cook for a minute or two, shaking the pan every so often. The quinoa will slowly turn golden brown, and begin to pop across the pan. Remove the pan from the heat, shake it a little more until the popping subsides, and transfer it to a bowl.

Popped Quinoa

Popping the quinoa

Popping the quinoa

Don’t worry if there are a few unpopped seeds remaining. Repeat until you have as much popped quinoa as you would like.

To serve, add your favourite toppings, e.g. icing sugar, salt, melted butter, etc.

Popped Quinoa

Popped Quinoa

The final masterpiece

Ingredients

  • Uncooked quinoa
  • A deep pan

  • Your choice of toppings to serve (e.g. icing sugar, salt, melted butter, etc)

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Who’s Cooking Today

Becca Pusey

Becca Pusey is a freelance recipe developer and food writer based in Hertfordshire, UK. She blogs over at Amuse Your Bouche, where she shares her favourite simple vegetarian recipes using everyday ingredients. She aims to show that vegetarian food can be just as easy to make, just as satisfying, and just as tasty as any meat dish. Oh, and she likes cheese, a lot.

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