Today - I turned this grain-like seed into a tasty side dish.
Quinoa is a "pseudocereal" rather than a true cereal or grain, because it's not a member of the grass family. I'm not seeing the connection, but a little research tells me it bears a close relationship to beets, spinach, and...tumbleweeds! But don't let that stop you. The nutrient composition is excellent compared to common cereals - quinoa grains contain essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosporus, and iron. Think of it as a healthier alternative to white rice. It reminds us of one of our favorites: risotto.
Cranberry-Orange Quinoa Salad
Bring 2 cups water and 1 cup quinoa to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender. It's ready when little sprouts appear. Scrape into a large bowl and cool til warm, about 20 minutes.
After the quinoa has cooled, stir in a mixture of 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (toast them, if you like), 1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries, 2 Tablespoons honey, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, and 2 Tablespoons lemon, orange, or lime juice.
here or printed here if you haven't done that before. I used one orange and wished I'd used two; the natural sweetness was a perfect contrast to the cranberries.
Cut the slices in half and add to the salad. Adding a chopped apple or two would be a great addition, as well - but I took my last apple to work last week for a snack! Salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of feta cheese.
Serve warm, room temperature or chilled. It was good at room temperature, but I think it will be even better tomorrow after a night in the fridge. This is the first time I've tried making this, and we were just a bit hesitant at first. After the second helping for each, we're sold on quinoa salad.
Now I'll leave it up to you to get creative. Think of the options:
- Use dried cranberries instead of fresh, or any dried fruit (like apricots!) - maybe cut the honey if you add a sweetened fruit
- Make it Waldorf quinoa salad, with apple chunks, grapes, and pecans, seasoned lightly with a sweet, mayo-based waldorf dressing
- Add onion, celery, garlic, thyme, rosemary and sage - and golden raisins - for a delicious alternative to Thanksgiving dressing
- Use red quinoa for a color change!
- Green onions sprinkled on top...or parsley...or T's favorite: olives, of course!
- Finely-chopped carrots...other cheeses...other types of nuts...cucumber bites..