I love quinoa. I love saying it to my kids “Look guys! It’s keen-wa! Keeen-waaaa!” and having them think I’m a huge nerd. I love that you can made it plain as a side dish when you are really sick of making rice and pasta, or you can go crazy and start adding all kinds of goodies to it (golden raisins, pumpkin seeds, feta cheese, all types of veggies, tofu, meats, toasted almonds, the list goes on and on!) and eat it as a main dish. Most of all, I love that is it a super grain. It has all 8 amino acids making it a complete source of protein for vegetarians, it is full of fiber and B vitamins, and it is gluten-free, and it’s delicious. It’s amazing!
I’ve made quinoa lots of ways, but this one sounded good to me today: a fresh salad seasoned with lemon juice and vinegar using some of the veggies I found at the Farmer’s Market this week. This recipe is vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free and low-fat. But don’t worry, it’s also super-delicious.
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock
1 Tb olive oil
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
Fresh spinach, about a handful
1/2 of a large zucchini, small dice
1/2 yellow squash, small dice
1 tomato, squeezed of juice and small dice
1/2 onion, small dice
1 tsp Cajun seasoning (or garlic and red pepper)
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
1 Tb lemon juice
2 Tb wine vinegar, white or red
- In a medium saucepan, bring the veg stock and olive oil to a boil. Rinse the quinoa under water in a fine mesh strainer and then add it to the stock (if you don’t have a fine mesh strainer, just submerge the quinoa in fresh cold water 3 of 4 times until the water looks clear). Reduce the heat to medium low, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. You will know when it is done when the cute little curlicues have loosened off the quinoa grains and they take on a softer texture.
- While the quinoa is cooking, you can prepare your veggies! To a large saute pan add the zucchini, squash and onion (salt and pepper your veggies!) and saute for 3-5 minutes or until just beginning to soften. Near the end of the cook time, add your minced garlic so it doesn’t burn. Add the lemon juice and vinegar, remove from heat and place in a large bowl to cool. Take your handful of spinach, remove the stems, and chop it into thin long pieces (also called chiffonade). Add the tomato and spinach to the veggies and mix in gently.
- Once the quinoa is cooked and all the stock has been absorbed, put in a large bowl to cool. Spread the quinoa out to the edges of the bowl to allow the grains to cool quickly, and stir often.
- After 5 minutes, you can add your bowl of veggies and mix in with the quinoa. Taste your salad, make sure you are happy with the amount of salt, vinegar and lemon juice.
This salad can be eaten warm or cold, it is fantastic either way. Quinoa is such a light grain, it is really wonderful as part of a picnic or to bring to a potluck as it hold up really well throughout the day. It would also be a nice touch to add some feta or top with some salted sunflower or hemp seeds. Use your imagination 🙂
There are hundreds of ways to make salads and sides from quinoa, it is a great grain that more people need to discover! Let me know some of your favorites.