Twenty Minute Super Salad
A one dish meal with endless variations
We love quinoa for its ease of preparation, super-healthy nutritional value, versatility and good taste. It’s nutty and light and fluffy, and it’s happy sharing a bowl with crunchy summer vegetables. Give it a bright squeeze of lemon! During the summer we use it to make salads, which as summer time foods should, travel well to impromptu picnics or pool parties.
If you’ve never heard of this amazing super-food, here are the basics. South American in origin, quinoa is said to have been revered by the Incas, who referred to it as the “mother of all grains.” In fact, quinoa is a seed, and technically it’s related to beets, spinach and swiss chard! Culinary-wise, though, quinoa is treated as a grain-substitute because it cooks up like one.
Nutritious and versatile
Quinoa is very high in protein compared to other grains, and is considered to be a complete protein because it contains all the essential amino acids (notably lysine, usually lacking in grains). A great source of fiber, iron, vitamin E and B vitamins, and, bonus points! quinoa also happens to be gluten-free. Pressed for time? Quinoa cooks in under twenty minutes.
Quinoa is wonderfully at home in many preparations. Try it plain with a little butter, toss it into soups, stir fry it or make it into a pilaf. Cook it with almond milk, add honey, top with fresh raspberries and have it for breakfast. Our favorite way to eat it is a delicious summer salad.
Summer Vegetable Quinoa Salad
3/4 cup quinoa
1 cup water **see note
Red onion, diced
Orange bell pepper, diced
Olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice for dressing
Salt and pepper for seasoning
How to cook the quinoa
Rinse the quinoa under ample cool running water. Quinoa has a coating (saponin) with a bitter taste, so rinse it in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear. Most commercially sold quinoa supposedly comes already rinsed, but we always rinse ours anyway.
Next, put the rinsed quinoa into a saucepan with the water. Turn the heat up to high, bring to a boil, put in a pinch of salt if you like, cover the pan, lower the heat to low, and let cook for 12 minutes. Then leave it covered on the stove for about 5 minutes.
** Note: Almost every recipe and instruction I’ve seen for quinoa calls for a two-to-one ratio of water to quinoa, and frequently a longer cooking time. In my experience following these instructions has been disappointing, so I’ve evolved my own method which I’ve outlined above. I encourage you to experiment and see what works best for your pan, your stove and your personal taste!
Next, assemble the salad
Here’s the fun part: chop the vegetables, toss with the cooked quinoa, dress with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and enjoy! Do all of this “to taste,” adding as much or as little of everything as you like.
Theme and Variations
Mix it up by substituting or adding your favorite salad ingredients, varying the flavor of the dressing or seasonings, or topping it with a special treat:
Ideas for additions and substitutions
- cherry tomatos
- asparagus or broccoli florettes, lightly steamed
- snow peas
- dried cranberries or apricots
- toasted pine nuts, hazelnuts or walnuts
- fava, cannellini or garbanzo beans
Dress up the dressing
- use sherry vinegar or lime juice instead of lemon juice
- add some chopped herbs, such as parsley or mint
- season with coriander, cumin and/ or paprika
Add a special treat
- smoked salmon
- broiled shrimp
- seared scallops
- feta cheese
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.