Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Manita's Quinoa with Citrus Vinaigrette

A super healthy Peruvian "grain," quinoa is as delicious as it is healthy. The most challenging thing about quinoa is learning how to pronounce it — keen-wah. While quinoa tastes and cooks as if it were a grain, it's actually a seed and has a light, mild flavor and somewhat chewy and creamy texture. It can be used much like couscous, but it’s much easier to manage as it doesn’t stick together as couscous can. It also does a wonderful job of absorbing the flavours of dressings or vinaigrettes, and can be served hot, cold or at room temperature. 

My great friend Manita introduced me to this amazing grain while I was in Miami, and it's now my favourite new ingredient! Quinoa is versatile, delicious, and loaded with nutrients that will keep you healthy, happy, and slim. Not only is it a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, but it is also gluten-free, easy to digest and incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet. When cooked, its light and fluffy texture makes it the perfect healthy substitute for rice or couscous. What's not to like?

Manita's Quinoa with Citrus Vinaigrette
Serves 12

2 cups Quinoa
3 cups water

vinaigrette: makes 1 cup
juice of 2 oranges
zest of 1 orange
segments of 1 orange, diced 
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup diced cucumber (my addition)
4 shallots, peeled and minced
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup black olives, pitted and diced
slivered almonds, toasted

Put the quinoa in a large pan. Pour in 3 cups of cold water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10–12 minutes, until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is transparent. Drain and leave to cool.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the oil, shallots, citrus juices and half of the orange zest

Combine the cooked Quinoa with half of the vinaigrette and mix thoroughly. Then add the olives, orange segments, remainder of the orange zest and cucumber, if you wish. Check the seasoning and adjust according to taste. Serve immediately with toasted almonds, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Note: Spoon additional dressing over the quinoa salad before serving.

Incredibly versatile, you can add any of your favourite ingredients to cooked Quinoa and customize your own special recipes. Simply add some grilled asparagus and shitake mushrooms to cooked Quinoa and toss with some toasted nuts and a simple citrus vinaigrette for a tasty Grilled Asparagus and Mushroom Quinoa Salad.