Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Quinoa with Olives & Cranberries in Citrus Vinaigrette

The words gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian are not words that comes into my day-to-day culinary lexicon. I am blessed, and forever grateful, that I don't suffer from any food allergies, and apart from choosing a reasonably low fat and predominantly pescatarian diet, I don't have to seek out any particular grains, seeds or flours that many people do, who are diagnosed with coeliac disease or are faced with gluten allergies or lactose intolerance. Faced with the daunting task of creating a gluten-free, dairy-free low cholesterol meal this past weekend, one of the fool-proof options I turned to was a Quinoa with Dried Cranberries, Olives & Slivered Almonds in a Citrus Vinaigrette. 

Organic, gluten free and vegetarian 'Quinoa Royal' from Costco no less!

Inspired by a Quinoa Salad Citrus Vinaigrette by my dear friend Manita, I decided to expand on the ingredients, and added diced pitted sun-dried olives, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, diced cucumber and hand pulled orange segments. Garnished with oodles of orange zest and drizzled with extra Citrus Vinaigrette, I became an ardent fan of Quinoa in one bite. Low fat, heart smart and gluten friendly, this is a recipe that tastes great without feeling like you're 'doing without'.

Costco's Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies - a Quinoa dessert that sound horrible but taste great!

Another amazing Costco 'find' was their GoGo brand Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies. Made with organic Royal Quinoa flour, tapioca flour, rice flour, cañahua flour, non-hydrogenated palm fruit oil, sugar cane juice, dark chocolate chips, brown sugar, Quinoa pop grains, sodium bicarbonate and natural vanilla extract, it sounds like they'd taste like cardboard, but are amazingly delicious. Who knew being gluten intolerant could be so yummy?

Quinoa with Dried Cranberries, Olives, Almonds & Citrus Vinaigrette
Serves 12

2 cups organic red and white Quinoa (I used GoGo from Costco)
3 cups water

Citrus vinaigrette:
3 oranges, juiced
3 orange, zested
2 oranges, segments only (pith removed), diced
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup diced english cucumber 
4 shallots, peeled and minced
1/2 cup olive oil
Maldon salt and black pepper to tate
1 cup black sun-dried olives, pitted and quartered
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup slivered almonds

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 zest of one orange. 

Combine the cooked Quinoa with half of the vinaigrette and mix thoroughly. Then add the olives, orange segments, olives, dried cranberries, remainder of the orange zest and cucumber. Check the seasoning and adjust according to taste. When ready to serve, add the almonds and orange segments and spoon into a large serving bowl. Garnish with the remaining orange zest and drizzle any additional dressing over the quinoa salad before serving.