Monday, March 7, 2011

A Little Taste of Summer (or at least spring)

I bought quinoa (pronounced KEY-NO-ah) the other day, thinking that I would make something. At the time, I really didn’t have a specific recipe in mind. So, when I decided to tackle cooking it for the first time, I went to my favorite GF blog – The Gluten Free Goddess. She really is a goddess.

Not only does she post tips on how to cook quinoa (w/ and w/o a rice cooker), she has a ton of wonderful recipes featuring this wonder-grain. Why is quinoa so amazing? Well, unlike rice and other grains, it has a ton of protein in it – very very important for the hardened veggie/vegan folks. Quinoa is also a great source for dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. It is GF (duh) and easy to digest.

By itself, quinoa is pretty tasteless. When cooked, it resembles rice, but smaller in size. Cooking is similar to rice, but requires quite a bit more water than rice.

The recipe I chose for my quinoa experience? The GF Goddess’ Quinoa Salad with Lime and Fresh Mint. As I was making it, I to look out the window to remind myself that there is still, in fact, snow on the ground, and that it would be rather chilly to enjoy this while reading a book on my patio. Its seriously summer (at least spring) in a salad (not to be confused with summer salad of course). While the quinoa is cooking, I had plenty of time to prep the rest of the ingredients.

I am going to try and hold off consuming this dish as the GFG recommends – a day or two – to allow the deliciousness to permeate the quinoa. We will see how long I last.

1 cup dry quinoa
2 tablespoons fruity extra virgin olive oil
juice from 2 limes
2-3 fresh mint sprigs, leaves removed and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves or parsley
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
A handful of sweet and ripe cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons diced red onion- or use 2 chopped scallions
1 garlic clove, minced

First, rinse your quinoa in a sieve (it's tiny so the usual colander might not do).

Cook the quinoa as you would raw rice: in 2 and 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups fresh salted water, covered, until all of the water is absorbed.

I use my rice cooker to do this. The quinoa turns out fluffy, tender and perfect.

Scoop the cooked quinoa into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, tossing lightly with a fork until combined.

Taste test and adjust seasonings.

Cover and chill- the longer, the better. In fact, I think this salad tastes better the second day- so plan ahead and make it the day before.

Makes 4-6 servings.

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