Jun 8, 2011

Quinoa Fiesta Salad

       As most of you know my favorite nutritional elements are fiber and protein. When a single ingredient includes both fiber and protein, I tend to obsess and use it all the time. Quinoa is one of those ingredients. Besides the fact that it is really good for us, it tastes great too. Quinoa was called the "mother grain" by the ancient Incan civilization. 
       Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain. In fact, it is a complete protein since it contains all eight essential amino acids. It is also lower in carbohydrates than most grains and has good unsaturated fats. It also has niacin, iron, phosphorus, potassium and is high in lysine. Awesome.
       In the quinoa fiesta salad I used a mixture of white, red and black quinoa. You can use which ever you have available. The original dressing recipe called for cranberry vinegar, but I didn't want to buy another bottle of vinegar only to use 2 tablespoons, so I substituted raspberry vinegar. I imagine any light, fruit-flavored vinegar would taste fine.

Quinoa Fiesta Salad
makes 4-6 servings
adapted from slknight

1 cup water
1 cup quinoa
pinch of salt
1 red bell pepper, cored seeded and cut into small dice
6 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cooked corn (I used frozen sweet baby corn)
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

Rinse quinoa several times in cold water. Bring water, quinoa and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Let stand 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.  Place in a large mixing bowl to cool.

Add red pepper, scallions, corn and cilantro to quinoa.

Dressing: In a small skillet, saute garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add cumin and cook 1 minute longer. Add honey, stir to melt, remove from heat and allow to cool. Add lemon juice and vinegar. Mix well and pour over quinoa and vegetables.

Mix salad gently but thoroughly. Right before serving stir in toasted pine nuts. Serve at room temperature.