I’ve been snitchin’. Yup, at it again, up to the same old tricks. But please don’t tell my husband, Mr. Herb Gardener. You see, I’ve been warned, as I am each and every Spring. “Let the poor herb plants get a chance to establish, before you raid and scalp them!” Oh dear, I’m in trouble once again ………….. I had so much fun with my beautiful herbs!
It was looking like it would be a busy week again here at The Café. I decided to make a healthy, fresh quinoa salad that we could enjoy today (Sunday) with some pan-seared salmon but one that we could also have on hand for quick lunches, dinners on the run and portable meals for taking to work. This salad fit all those bills plus it’s wonderfully delicious.
Don’t worry if you don’t have an herb garden. I used a bit of basil, oregano, chives, mint and thyme (I tried to just take a little from each one so he wouldn’t be able to tell I was snitchin’ but unfortunately, he’s VERY observant). I also had a small bag of fresh cilantro* in the fridge and used some of that to make up the one cup of chopped fresh herbs needed for this yummy salad. You could use whatever type of herb combination you have available. Two of the small packs of herbs from the market would be perfect, along with some parsley and/or cilantro. Just use your favorite herbs.
Did you know that quinoa is a complete protein? How about that that it provides all of the amino acids, including lysine which is essential for growing and repairing body tissue. And did you know the the name actually means “mother grain” and was so named because this super high amount of amino acids and vitamins. One cup of quinoa provides 9 grams of protein and 7 grams of insoluble dietary fiber, which has all kinds of health benefits including the fact that it helps lower triglycerides and blood cholesterol levels. This helps your cardiovascular health and can assist in weight loss. The fiber in quinoa leaves you feeling full, while only containing 70 calories per 100gm serving size. I love that!
If you search “nutritional value of quinoa” you’ll find that it hosts just a ton of other health benefits but there’s another fact that was quite fascinating to me. Quinoa was originally discovered in South American and was seen by the Incas as a sacred food. They are the ones who dubbed it “the mother grain and they planted the first seeds of the season in religious ceremonies using golden tools. It’s been said that depriving the people of quinoa was one of the ways the Spanish used to conquer the Incas! No quinoa, no protein, no energy! Wow, how interesting is that?
To me, another wonderful attribue of quinoa is that in a culinary sense, it’s a blank canvas. You can add all types of flavorful ingredients to it which gives it a zillion different personalities. This time I wanted to make it light and fresh and used fresh herbs for a burst of flavor. Another favorite of ours is this Black Bean & Quina Salad w/ Lemon-Cumin Vinaigrette, so good!
Quinoa Salad W/ Mango & Fresh Herb Gremolata
2 cups quinoa , uncooked
3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, your best for drizzling
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste
1 large or two medium, mangoes, peeled and finely diced.
1 small red onion, finely diced
6 green (spring) onions, finely sliced
1 medium jalapeno, finely chopped, seeds removed
zest of 1 lemon, finely zested
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, I used cilantro, basil, oregano, chives, mint and thyme
2 cups tiny frozen peas, thawed but not cooked
1. Cover quinoa with cold water and swish with your hand for 30 seconds. Drain in a fine strainer and allow to drain for 15-20 minutes, gently shaking strainer every 5 minutes to remove as much water as possible. Rinse and dry bowl for later use.
2. Heat a medium-large pan over medium heat for several minutes. Add quinoa and toast, stirring constantly, until all liquid is removed and you begin to smell a nutty aroma, about two minutes. Transfer to dry bowl.
3. Rinse pot and bring 3 cups of broth to a rolling boil. Add toasted quinoa and cover, leaving lid slightly vented to allow steam to escape. Reduce heat to low (maintain just a slight simmer) and cook for 14-16 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit, uncovered for 30 minutes to cool while preparing rest of ingredients, then fluff with a fork.
4. Place chopped mango on several thicknesses of paper towel to drain off any excess liquid.
5. For gremolata, combine chopped herbs, minced garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until well combined.
6. Place quinoa in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over quinoa, add sea salt and stir to combine. Taste and add a bit more salt and pepper, if needed. Add gremolata along with remaining ingredients and stir again. Taste and add more seasoning, if needed. Serve at room temperature. Garnish with more fresh herbs. If serving individual portions, I like to garnish the top to look like a little herb garden. 🙂