Do you ever get on a culinary "kick"? You know, you find something you're quite fond of and it finds it's way onto your table again and again? This happens to me fairly regularly but being quite capricious, the next thing I know, I'm onto something else.
This time however, I think it's going to stick and that's a really good thing because my current rage is extremely healthy, inexpensive, amazingly adaptable and very delicious !!
It's Quinoa, and I am having so much fun with it. I bought a big (as in Humungous!) bag of quinoa at Costco a few weeks ago. I thought with just the two of us here at The Café, we'd be eating quinoa till the cows come home! But guess what? I'm working my way down that bag quite quickly and I have a feeling I'll be buying another in the not too distant future.
I love to cook a big pot of this delicious ancient grain at the beginning of the week and then use it in different ways all week long. It's great in salads, as a replacement for rice or potatoes and is wonderful in muffins, breads and pancakes.
I've been experimenting with the best way to cook quinoa. If it's not cooked right it can be a bit soggy verses the way we like it, fluffy, separating into individual grains rather than a heavy semi-solid mass. I've found that it all comes down to prep and water ratio. There are a few tiny steps in preparation (see link in recipe below for technique) that make a huge difference along with the amount of water used to cook this ancient grain. There are two schools of thought as far as water ratio; the first is double the amount of water to quinoa, the other calls for two parts quinoa to three parts water. I tested both and found the second much more to our liking, fluffy with the individual grains separate and evident rather than soggy and somewhat dense.
We LOVE this Black Bean and Quinoa Salad. It was inspired by a Greek café near our home that I visited earlier in the week with my daughter-in-law. Their salad did not include quinoa but was loaded with black beans, chick peas, peppers and bits of onion along with a generous dose of fresh herbs. The dressing was delicious, bright and lemony with a taste of cumin. You would have laughed had you seen Lindsay and I deconstructing our lunch, in hopes of figuring out the delicious salad.
I think I've come quite close and love that this one can serve as a main course as the quinoa is a complete protein and also adds tons of iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, lysine, folate and other essential amino acids. It's also a wonderful source of fiber and has no unsaturated fat. Wow, that's a mouthful! Do try this salad and discover for yourself that quinoa can be fabulously delicious!
- 2 cloves garlic
- fine zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seed you can use ground coriander but the fresh is so much more flavorful!
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously until well combined.
- 3 cups cooked quinoa*
- 2 15 ounce can black beans
- 1 15 ounce can chick peas
- ½ medium red onion finely chopped
- 1 cup finely chopped bell pepper I used red, orange and yellow, whatever you have is fine
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl along with ½ cup of the dressing. Let the salad sit for 15 minutes for flavors to develop. Taste and add more dressing if desired.
* ~ See Eating Rules for an excellent tutorial on what, I think, is the best way to cook quinoa.