Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Salad of Quinoa and Greens with an Asian dressing

Who doesn't love quinoa?  Its so healthy, easy to work with, and it has a neutral taste so it takes on the flavor of whatever you mix it with.   

I shared a link to this recipe Allergy Friendly Friday at Cybele Pascal's bog, at the Heart and Soul Hop and Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop blog.  And a big thanks to Angie at the blog cocina diary for her food photography tips.  This is just my third post taking my own pictures - using the Picnik photo editer she suggested - I think these photos are so much better than my previous ones.  I'm tempted to go back and edit all of the previous photos, but don't have time.

It's a bit awkward posting this recipe, because its hardly a recipe at all.  I've put amounts for the dressing ingredients, but truthfully, I don't measure any of it.

A bit of info for foodie nerds... quinoa is not a grain, but a species of goosefoot, related to beets and spinach with edible seeds.  Quinoa originated in South America, where is was domesticated more than 3000 years ago.  The Incas referred to quinoa as the 'mother of all grains' and held it to be sacred.  After the Spanish conquest, the cultivation of quinoa was suppressed because of its sacred status within the indigenous cultures.  Quinoa's protein content is quite high (12% - 18%) and it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it, very unusally, a plant that is a complete protein.  Quinoa is gluten-free a great source of dietary fiber, magnesuim, and iron. 

Quinoa requires rinsing because in its natural state, it has a coating of bitter-tasting saporins (which makes it unpalatable to birds).  Most quinoa sold in the U.S. has been pre-rinsed - however, I always rinse it briefly for my own peace of mind - although probably not at all necessary. 

1 cup quinoa (rinsed)
2 cups filtered water

daikon radish, peeled and cut into small cubes
napa cabbage, shredded
purple cabbage, shredded
dandelion greens, torn into bite-sized pieces
snap peas, cut into bits-sized pieces
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (including the stems - they taste good)

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 - 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ume vinegar
couple drops agave or other sweetener
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free tamari
1 - 2 teaspoons grated ginger
Sriracha (or hot sauce or red pepper flake) to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan.  Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a fine meshed strainer and rinsed under cold water.  Add to boiling water.  Cover and turn down the heat so that the quinoa is gently simmering. Simmer the quinoa for about 15 - 20 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed.  Turn out onto a sheet tray and separate grains with a fork.  Allow quinoa to cool. 

Place all of the veggies in a large bowl. 

Mix together ingredients for the dressing with a whisk.  Taste and adjust the dressing so it tastes great to you. 

Spoon cooled quinoa in the bowl with the veggies, pour dressing over and mix.

Amounts for the veggies are not given because you can add whatever veggies and greens in whatever amounts that you like. 

Options (are endless...):

just to give one example with an Italian flare - roast some veggies (see my post regarding roasting vegetables) such as broccoli, onion, red pepper, garlic.  Dress the salad with extra virgin olive oil, lemon, red pepper flake, salt, and pepper.  Add kalamata olives, cubed fresh mozzarella, and chopped flat-leaf parsley for extra wonderfulness. 

don't like cilantro?  substitute basil and a bit of mint.

of course, grilled chicken, shrimp, steak, or marinated tofu can be added to the salad.


  1. ohhh - I love new quinoa recipes!!
    this one looks great!

  2. Quinoa is a grain I am only slightly familiar with - thanks for sharing how easy it is to make and how versatile it is. Thanks for sharing this with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop!