If you’re a health nut, you probably know about quinoa, the super grain first cultivated by the Incas over 6,000 years ago. They called it chisaya mama, which means “the mother of all grains.” Interestingly, quinoa is not technically a grain, it’s a leafy vegetable related to chard and spinach, but the edible seeds of the plant are the true superstars.
Quinoa is a complete protein, with all nine essential amino acids, more than any other grain. It’s also rich in vitamin B2, magnesium, fiber, iron, zinc, and vitamins E and B6. So basically, it prevents headaches, hypertension, osteoporosis, cataracts, heart disease, and maybe even breast cancer. EAT IT.
Beyond all of quinoa’s exceptional health benefits, it is a versatile and delicious ingredient. It cooks up light and fluffy in minutes, and can replace rice or couscous in virtually any recipe. It’s subtle nutty flavor always shines through, whether chilled in a salad, steaming in a side dish, or sweetened in a dessert.
Always rinse quinoa thoroughly in cold water. When the germ ring separates from the grain, the quinoa is cooked.
Quinoa Salad with Feta & Cucumber
Makes 4 side dish servings or 2 entree
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tblsp fresh lemon juice
1 tblsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
fresh black pepper
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
1 Persian cucumber, sliced
2 oz feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
2 handfuls Bibb lettuce, cut in strips
1 red Belgian endive, sliced on the diagonal
1. Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water, draining in a fine metal sieve. Stir together quinoa, water, and 1/2 tsp salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until all the water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. When done, the grain appears soft and translucent, and the germ ring will be visible on the outside of the grain. Let the quinoa cool.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together lemon juice, oil, remaining salt, pepper, and parsley. Toss the quinoa, lettuces, cucumber, olives, and feta with the dressing.