Friday, May 27, 2011

quinoa...where have you been all my life?

i would guess that three years ago most people in this country had never heard of quinoa.  now it has become the darling of foodies.  i see it in food magazines, on the menus of many restaurants, available at most supermarkets...and i must confess that i am a massive fan.   quinoa is delicious...and really good for you. what could be better?  i did a bit of research to understand exactly what quinoa was....thought it was a type of rice or grain...only to discover that it was actually a seed.  the more i read...the more i am impressed by this "super food". describes quinoa this way"

"Nutritionally, quinoa might be considered a supergrain--although it is not really a grain, but the seed of a leafy plant that's distantly related to spinach. Quinoa has excellent reserves of Protein, and unlike other grains, is not missing the amino acid lysine, so the protein is more complete (a trait it shares with other "non-true" grains such as buckwheat and amaranth). The World Health Organization has rated the quality of protein in quinoa at least equivalent to that in milk. Quinoa offers more iron than other grains and contains high levels of potassium and riboflavin, as well as other B vitamins: B6, niacin, and thiamin. It is also a good source of magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese, and has some folate (folic acid)."

since i am always looking for ways to add protein and iron to my diet, this is a major plus for me. quinoa is gluten free, easy to prepare, low in calories...and very versatile. quinoa comes in different colors ranging from ivory to tan to pale yellow to red to black.  they all taste similar but i think the darker the color, the richer the taste.  i am partial to red quinoa...but i like them all.

use quinoa to make salads, pilafs, stuffing, cooked hot for breakfast (like oatmeal), in baked goods...and on and on and on.

our last book club meeting had a salad theme for dinner.  8 members, so 8 different salads.   all delicious.  i decided to make a greek quinoa salad using red quinoa, sweet white onions, kalamata olives, english cucumber, red bell pepper, italian parsley and feta cheese tossed in a red wine vinegar vinaigrette.  so good!  i made way too much so, in addition to multiple servings at book club, we had it for lunch and dinner numerous times...including a picnic lunch with four friends (grilled chicken and the salad!)....another benefit is that it holds well so you can make it in advance. is the start of the memorial day weekend.   picnics, barbecues, pool parties, days at the beach.  need a salad suggestion?  quinoa would be perfect!

greek quinoa salad
use organic produce if you can
2 cups red quinoa
4 cups water
1/2 sweet white onion diced
1 cup kalamata olives sliced
1 english cucumber, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped
pinch sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

red wine vinaigrette
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
3/4 cup  extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 clove minced garlic
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
pinch sea salt
combine all vinaigrette ingredients in jar with tight fitting lid. (i use mason jars) shake until thoroughly combined.

combine quinoa and water in medium saucepan.  bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer until water has evaporated (about 20-25 minutes).  remove from heat and allow to cool. fluff with fork. place cooled quinoa in a large bowl.  add 1/2 cup vinaigrette and stir to incorporate.  add all vegetables and herbs and stir to combine.  add another 1/2 cup vinaigrette and the feta cheese. taste before adding seasonings because the feta is pretty salty.  season to taste.  add additional vinaigrette if desired.  serve cold or at room temperature.
(note...this makes a lot of salad...feel free to cut in half if you can even make just a qtr divides easily)

happy memorial day you make quinoa?  how do you prepare?


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "

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