Thursday, October 30, 2008

a peculiar protein

no, i'm not talking about sheep's brains, cow's tongue or pig's feet, i'm talking about quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), the mother grain.

quinoa is an ancient grain first harvested in south america by the incans some 6,000 years ago. it can be cooked the same way as rice but in about half the time. quinoa has a texture somewhere inbetween long grain rice and cous cous; light and fluffy with a little bit of tooth to it.

this "super" grain's nutritional values are through the roof; quinoa is high in protein, moreover, it is a complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. it is also rich in fiber and gluten free - a vegan's dream.

what we have here is my attempt at hobbling together a quinoa salad with whatever i had on hand. it's something of a quinoa tabouli - kinda, sorta - but without so much parsely.

Quinoa Salad
yield 1qt

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup ripe tomato, peeled, medium dice
1 cup zucchini, blanched, medium dice
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, minced
1 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/4 fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS white wine vinegar OR the juice from one whole lemon
salt & pepper to taste

1. rinse quinoa under cold water for several minutes. use a fine mesh sieve so you don't go losing all them grains.

2. bring water to boil, add one teaspoon of salt, then add the quinoa. return to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. simmer on low for 12 or until done (make sure all water on the bottom of the pan is absorbed).

3. spread quinoa out on a flat surface to cool off and air out. i use a handy baking pan. this step is optional, in theory, but i like the way it preserves the grains.

4. combine remaining ingredients in a work bowl. mix well.

5. once cooled, add quinoa, mix well and adjust seasoning to taste.

--serve as a side or double up and have you a vegetarian main; a salad that eats like a meal.

© 2008 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

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