Southwestern Quinoa Salad (B)

April 28, 2006 at 3:09 pm (Beans, B_minus (2.5 stars), From a friend, Grains, Quick weeknight recipe)

A friend gave me this recipe which is very loosely adapted from a rice salad in the Joy of Cooking. It’s similar to the quinoa salad recipe in Berley’s cookbook, but a bit simpler. Once I tasted it I knew instantly that Derek would love it. It’s nutty and very cumin-y. Indeed, he loves it.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
1.5 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup pine nuts (I often use pepitas)
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (I use dry not oil packed)
1 red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon cumin
dried red pepper flakes to taste

Combine the quinoa, salt and water in a pot. Bring it to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover. Simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat as soon as it’s done–don’t let it sit covered on a still-warm burner like you would with brown rice.

While the quinoa is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan. Chop and measure all the other ingredients into a big serving or mixing bowl, and then mix the warm quinoa into all the other ingredients. Be careful not to overcook the quinoa though!

My friend’s notes:

-Quinoa varies. Some needs to be rinsed first, to remove the natural bitter coating. Some doesn’t. The good news is, if you don’t rinse and it comes out bitter, you can just rinse the cooked grains and they’ll be fine.

-We actually cook quinoa in our rice cooker, and it comes out great. Same water-to-quinoa ratio.

-I like this best after I let it sit for a while, to let the flavors blend, but you can serve it right away. It also makes excellent leftovers, and I often take it for lunch and eat it cold.

-I tend to like strong flavors. If you want a milder dish, soak the chopped onion in a mixture of salt, water, and vinegar (about as salty as tears, and about 1/4 vinegar by volume). After a 20-minute soak, rinse them well, and they’ll be much milder. You can also saute the garlic instead of using it raw, and skip the red pepper flakes.

-This is very festive and pretty, so it makes a good veggie holiday dish.

My notes:

The Tablespoon of cumin sounds like a lot but it’s correct. It’s not too cumin-y, don’t worry. I found the onions tasty when I ate it right away, but by the next day they were way too strong for me.

The water to quinoa measurement seems a bit low, but it works well. The quinoa comes out a bit more chewy and al dente than normal, which is great for this salad. No need to toast the quinoa beforehand.

I like to replace the pine nuts with pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds), which are also delicious, but cheaper, and are a great source of iron.

I gave this recipe to my mom and she was hesitant because she said it had “weird ingredients”, but once she made it she liked the flavor as well, although it doesn’t sound like she’d make it again.

Derek likes this recipe a lot, but only hot or warm. He does not like it room temperature or cold.

Update Dec 2006: I made this using Israeli couscous instead of quinoa. I couldn’t find the ratio of water/couscous anywhere, so I just boiled it like pasta until al dente. It turns out that one cup of Israeli couscous makes more than one cup of quinoa. Again, though, I could not find the yield for Israeli couscous anywhere on the web. If you know please post a comment and enlighten me. The salad was fine with the couscous, but I prefer the quinoa version.

Rating: B

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