I have recently updated my cooking technique for Quinoa (as seen in Mainstreet February 2014):
Quinoa arguably the reigning super food of the last few years is becoming a mainstay in the kitchen pantry. Quinoa, which is a seed, is prepared in the same way as a grain, and is often served as such. Unlike brown rice, quinoa takes no longer to cook than Basmati or Jasmine rice. Quinoa’s high protein content makes it a great addition to a vegan or vegetarian diet. The following recipe is a meal in itself, but would do well as a side dish. I would serve it with a marinated pork loin or chicken breast. Just set aside a little vinaigrette in another container, and baste the meat just before cooking.
Recently I was looking for an interesting quinoa recipe on line when I stumbled upon Bon Appetite’s guide to common mistakes made when cooking quinoa. For simplicities’ sake I will just summarize what to do in order to cook it perfectly: Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, as quinoa will slip through a regular colander. The quinoa to water ratio is 1:2, in other words 1 cup of quinoa for 2 cups of water. Add both to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low immediately, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Drain the quinoa, once again, using a fine mesh sieve. Return the quinoa to the pot, and let stand covered on the burner, which is now off, for another 15 minutes. This allows the quinoa to dry out slightly. Then fluff the quinoa with a fork, and serve or let cool, and use in a salad.
Quinoa Greek Salad
· 250 ml (1 cup) quinoa
· 500ml (2 cups) water*
· 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) salt
· 1 medium tomato, diced
· 1/2 English cucumber, diced
· 125 ml (1/2 cup) kalamata olives, pitted, roughly chopped
· 1/2 yellow or red onion, diced
· (3 oz) 100 g feta, diced
· 60 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
· 125 ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
· 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
· 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) dried oregano**
· 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) dried mint
· 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) dried dill
· To taste salt and freshly ground pepper
Cook the quinoa as directed above, and let cool. Add the cooled quinoa, tomato, cucumber, olives, onion and feta to a bowl and toss. Add the ingredients of the vinaigrette to a small jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake vigorously until homogenized. Set aside. Give it a few shakes just before serving, and pour it liberally over salad. Toss and serve.
*You can infuse the water used to cook the quinoa with herbs and spices, or replace the water with the same amount of broth. Try adding lemon, lime or orange zest to the water or whole spices that you remove once cooked.
**Dried herbs are convenient, but try using fresh herbs for the vinaigrette when able. Greek salad often calls for green pepper, but my kids do not like it’s bitter taste. I save the green for cooking, and use red, yellow and orange peppers for salads and crudités.