Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Quinoa is a type of small grain-like seed, with a faintly nutty taste and a grainy texture which lends itself well to salads. It is native to the Andes. I have been known to mispronounce it (which I tend to do with my linguistic background) as kee-noah, but it's actually pronounced as kin-wah. I really like the red quinoa for its color, but it can also be wheat-colored or black. It is a great alternative if you're looking for something that's gluten-free, or some variety to or a break from regular side dishes like pasta or rice.
We fell into the pasta or rice trap a while ago, which is only too easy to do during a busy week when neither I nor Tony have the time or energy to be terribly imaginative cooks. Pasta and rice are accessible. Our local supermarket has a whole aisle devoted to pasta, a whole section (about 1/4 of an aisle) devoted to rice and, imagine, a whole shelf devoted to grains, pseudocereals and legumes such as barley, quinoa, buckwheat, and lentils. Pasta and rice are also familiar and easy. But so is quinoa. It is cooked in a similar way to rice: simply simmer it in water for twenty minutes or so and wait for the water to evaporate, then fluff and serve as a side with a bit of salt and a crackle of pepper. You can also add some olive oil, or let it cool and make a salad.
This recipe is for an easy and quick quinoa salad, with bell peppers, tomato, onion and parsley. I added yellow bell peppers for an appealing color contrast. I also added some alfalfa sprouts, which blend well with the texture of quinoa.
Red Quinoa Salad
You will need:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp salt
1 plum tomato, finely chopped
1/4 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 small yellow or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/3 cup alfalfa sprouts
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp stone-ground mustard
Salt, pepper to taste
1. Rinse quinoa and drain. Combine quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water in a medium pot and bring to a boil on medium heat. Add 1/8 tsp salt and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, until all of the water has evaporated, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with a wooden spoon and let cool to room temperature.
2. In a large bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, tomato, red onion, bell pepper, parsley and alfalfa sprouts. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar and mustard, and add to the salad. Toss well and season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy.