When I first met Larry, he introduced me to “quinoa” (pronounced keen wah) which is a grain widely used by the Incas of Peru. It is a much better alternative than rice or couscous. It is easily found in most bulk food stores in Canada, in either red white or black colours or mixed. Most of our friends to whom we have introduced this tend to really enjoy the nutty flavour. It has great nutritional value. For more info on quinoa, here is a link that might interest you – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa
Our usual preparation is to treat quinoa much like rice, bringing two cups (or less) of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 10–15 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (like al dente pasta). As an alternative, one can use a rice cooker to prepare quinoa, treating it just like white rice (for both cooking cycle and water amounts). Often times in place of the water, we use broth or sour orange juice and mix in some nuts and cranberries. We serve this hot as a side dish in place of potatoes.
Apparently, 2013 has been declared International Year of Quinoa by the United Nations. Anyways, having cooked too much quinoa one day I searched for other recipes and came across these variations by Annabelle Waugh for quinoa salad – the one in red is the only one I have tested so far and it was great! Let me know if you try any of the others, please?
For a Middle Eastern salad:
- Whisk together equal parts lemon juice and olive oil, then add a clove of garlic, minced, a handful each of chopped fresh mint and parsley and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Sometimes I’ll add some crumbled feta in, too.
For an Asian salad:
- Whisk together 4 parts unseasoned rice vinegar and 1 part each of soy sauce, sesame oil and honey. Mix in handful of chopped cilantro and a minced green onion. And hot sauce, naturally.
For an Italian salad:
- Whisk together equal parts olive oil, wine vinegar and strained tomato puree (passata). Season with salt, pepper, a little minced garlic and a handful of chopped fresh basil.