Quinoa and Company
Have you joined the quinoa “club” yet? It seems that every now and then a new trend takes over the culinary world and everyone starts cooking it. Quinoa is one such phenomenon. Quinoa looks like a grain but in fact it is a seed passed on to us through the ancient Inca culture. It’s known as the super seed and its claim to fame is the fact that it is gluten free and protein rich. In our protein crazed society that’s an appealing factor. Quinoa, however, is a lovely grain and if you are interested in cooking at all you should have a couple of quinoa recipes in your culinary repertoire. It is a cooperative seed that cooks quickly, remains fluffy and retains nice texture that holds up when paired with other foods. It’s delicate nutty flavour blends well with vegetables and even fruits. Quinoa can be served as a cereal for breakfast, in salads, soups, on its own or with other vegetables.
When buying quinoa get close and notice the aroma. It should be fresh and nutty and never rancid or musty. At home store it in an airtight container and use within a reasonable time frame. To cook plain combine 1 part quinoa with 3 parts water, bring to a boil and then simmer until the water is absorbed and the grains are fluffy. Drain any excess water. 1 cup dry quinoa would yield about 3 cups cooked.
This quinoa salad is full of good things. I started with cooked quinoa, then added nuts and seeds, currants, cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced radishes, a few inner leaves of frisée lettuce and colourful leaves of edible flowers from the garden. A handful of herbs, drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon wedge finished the dish lightly and nicely. You can use any or all of the ingredients I suggested or substitute your own. Quinoa does well in mixed company.
1/2 cup mixed nuts and seeds
1/4 cup currants
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 radishes, sliced thinly
1/2 cup corn kernel, cooked
A drizzle of olive oil
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper
A few inner frisée leaves (curly endive)
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano, rosemary)
Place quinoa and water in a 2 quart pot and bring to a boil. Add salt, lower heat, partially cover and cook until quinoa is fluffy and cooked through but not mushy. Drain excess liquids and set aside, uncovered.
When quinoa has cooled to room temperature add remaining ingredients, then drizzle with olive oil, add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently to coat everything with the dressing.
Add the frisée leaves as well as the herbs and mix to distribute into the salad.
Serve salad at room temperature with good crusty bread and sweet butter.