I have been inundated with vegans lately. I don’t know why, but so many of my friends have gone animal free lately. I have no problem with it, and I would join them, if it wasn’t for all the delicious meats. But never fear – there are plenty of filling vegetable based dishes in my repertoire, including this one from my salad book.
Pronounced KEEN-WAH, this tiny grain was first cultivated and cherished by the Incas and Aztecs. It is extremely high in protein and has a light, delicate, almost nutty flavor that pairs easily with all sorts of ingredients. When it cooks, the grain opens up slightly, producing a texture that is slightly crunchy, but not at all tough.
Quinoa is a nice change of pace from rice, served plain as an accompaniment to braised meats and stews. Or it can be made into a warm, flavorful pilaf, with onions, herbs, nuts, and dried fruits. Here we let it cool, then mix it with a flavorful dressing. The herbs are the perfect complement adding a fresh profile while still letting the grain’s flavor shine.
Quinoa can be found today in health food stores and most large supermarkets. If you buy it in bulk, be sure to rinse it well. The grain has a natural, soapy film that serves as its own natural insect repellant. Rinsing through a colander with cold water for 30-60 seconds will suffice.
4 cups water
1-1/2 cup quinoa
1 large shallot, minced
1/4 cup fresh thyme, minced
1/4 cup fresh sage, minced
1/4 cup fresh tarragon, minced
juice and zest of 1 lemon
3 TB. olive oil
1/2 small red onion
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, diced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup sliced almonds
- Bring water to a boil over high heat. Add quinoa, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, until tender. Drain and spread onto a baking sheet to cool and dry. Set aside.
- In a large bowl mix together shallot, thyme, sage, tarragon, lemon zest and juice, and oil. Add onion, tomato, cucumber, and cooled quinoa. Stir thoroughly to coat, and chill at least 30 minutes. Toss in basil, parsley, and almonds just before serving.