Quinoa (Pronunciation: \ˈkēn-ˌwä, kē-ˈnō-ə\ per the MW dictionary) is a seed with a protein punch. It cooks really quickly and has a texture similar to couscous. Quinoa provides an almost blank palette to cook with as it has a very subtle flavor – you can flavor it with almost anything and it tastes good. It’s often a good rice substitute as well.
Today, I made a salad with cooked Quinoa, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro leaves and an olive oil/lemon juice dressing. The recipe was simple and the salad was light but filling. The tartness of the dressing struck a perfect balance with the creaminess of the Quinoa and olive oil, and with the texture of the cucumbers and tomatoes. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, you can replace it with parsley or mint or basil leaves.
Quinoa Salad Ingredients:
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa seeds
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp canola oil
- 2 roma tomatoes (small/medium sized), chopped finely
- 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped finely
- 1 small bunch of chopped cilantro
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon tellicherry black pepper, freshly ground
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 green chili pepper, chopped finely
Place a small saucepan on the stove on medium high. Rinse the quinoa seeds in water a few times. Add 1 teaspoon of the canola oil. When the oil/pan is hot, add the quinoa, salt and bay leaf. Stir once and then add 2 cups of room temperature water. Stir again. Place a lid on the saucepan. When the mixture comes to a boil, lower the stove to low. The quinoa will take 15 minutes to cook.
In the interrim, wash, peel and chop the cucumber. Wash and chop the tomatoes and cilantro. Set aside.
In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, agave nectar, black pepper, salt and the chili pepper. Set this dressing aside.
When the quinoa has cooked, place it in a large mixing bowl. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Spread out the quinoa in the bowl to help it cool down.
Then add the tomatoes, cucumbers and cilantro. Pour the dressing on top of the mixture and mix well. Serve as a salad or as a side.
A fun note: Tellicherry peppercorns are imported from the town of Tellicherry (the anglicized form of Thalassery) on the Malabar coast of Kerala, India.