A friend introduced me to quinoa last year. She happens to be a fantastic cook and every meal we share with her is a healthy adventure. It was from this dear friend that I discovered that just because it is good for you doesn't mean it has to be boring or tasteless. Anyway, we were over for supper one night and she was making this quinoa salad. I thought that it was couscous...kinda resembled it, certainly didn't taste like it, I was sold. Off I went on the search for quinoa at the grocery stores. I was shocked by the price, it certainly didn't fit into my idea of inexpensive and no matter how good it tastes I couldn't bring myself to spend 5.99 for a small box. I found it in bulk at Earth Fare but it was out of stock and I needed immediate gratification. Then I remembered her mentioning that she had bought it at Costco so off I went where it was $10 for a 4 lbs. Emotionally that is a lot money for me to spend, I have trouble parting with cash. I am glad I did, 4lbs of quinoa is quite a bit and it lasts a long time. Just like rice, its 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa producing 2 cups of cooked quinoa. If I don't use the entire amount, I put it in a zip lock bag and stick it in the freezer. It is about 5 minutes in the microwave to defrost and heat up. I do the same thing with brown rice which is really a time saver for me.
Last night I was trying to come up with something different to have with chicken. I often like to make the side dishes the more exciting part of the meal. We had this salad with summer squash and chicken breasts which we grilled.
Quinoa Salad Italiano
2 cups cooked quinoa cooled
1 tomato chopped
2 green onions chopped (included green)
1/4 large red onion chopped
1/4 fresh basil chopped
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic minced
Place all salad ingredients in mixing blow and toss. In a separate bowl place the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk until it looks like salad dressing! Pour the half the vinaigrette over the salad ingredients, mix well, taste and add additional vinaigrette to your liking. Salt and pepper to taste. This can either be enjoyed at room temperature or chilled.
A brief cooking note about types of quinoa
Some quinoa must be soaked prior to use (such as the bulk quinoa available at health food stores). If you do not follow this step, your quinoa will taste soapy. Please read the quinoa package prior to purchase to see if this is a necessary step. The quinoa I purchase doesn't require soaking and to the best of my knowledge the nutrional value is the same.