The first time I ever heard of quinoa was when a friend researched the grain for a Food Studies course. It is apparently really, super, extra good for you, and was cultivated by the Incas, who referred to it as the Supergrain of the Future, or something like that. And, it is pronounced KEEN-WAH, not QUIN-OH-AH, which unless someone told me otherwise, I would not have known.
Since first being introduced to it, I've occasionally had quinoa as a stuffing for bell peppers, or in a prepared salad from a local gourmet deli I like. But last night I was at the grocery store picking up things for an orzo salad that I make all the time, and saw boxes of quinoa on the shelf. Hmmm, I thought, Supergrain of the Future, eh? Maybe I should try some of this stuff on my own...
Quinoa is wheat and gluten free, high in protein and an excellent source of fiber. You prepare it the way you would prepare rice or bulgar -- add to a sauce pan with a 1:2 grain to water ratio, bring to a boil, then simmer at low heat until grain is fluffy and has absorbed the water. I tossed mine with basically everything that was in the pantry for an extremely satisfying entree salad, but I think it'd be good alongside roasted chicken, or stuffed in tomatoes or peppers. I'm not a big fan of rice (which is a strange food not to like, but I just don't like it), and the quinoa made up for all the things I don't usually like about rice -- it wasn't bland or starchy; it tasted rich and hearty and grainy.
The Incas knew what they were talking about...
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa, brought to a boil with 2 cups water
- apprx half a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup pitted olives
- 1 can Italian tuna, in oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- apprx 1 tablespoon olive oil
While grain is simmering, chop and mix together everything else -- and improvise/substitute/adapt depending on your taste and your pantry. When quinoa is fluffy, fold into the rest of the salad ingredients and serve. Salad can be stored and chilled for 2-3 days.