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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Quinoa Summer Salad

I don't know about you, but whole grains intimidate me. I don't mean like whole grain bread or whole grain pasta which I think I have a handle on, I'm talking WHOLE grains. As in, freshly plucked from the grain or wherever they come from. Here's my typical MO: I see the whole grains in the bulk food bins at Whole Foods. I think to myself, "I'm gonna buy me some of that there grain and make me somethin' real nice (pronounce 'nass')." Apparently, I must think that in order to cook whole grains I need to live on the bayou. So I buy a big bag of said grains feeling quite proud of myself as I write the bin number on the twisty tie. Then the poor bag of grains will sit, completely ignored, on the pantry shelf for, say...three years, before I toss it out after convincing myself that surely it must be crawling with pantry mites or something equally disgusting. (Is there really such a thing as a pantry mite?)

You may remember that recently I visited Peru. And in Peru they grow a grain called quinoa, (pronounce "KEEN-wah").

quinoa growing in the Peruvian Andes

Have I mentioned that the food in Peru is amazing?? I mean AMAZINGLY delicious and quinoa is a staple in many a national dish. Upon returning home from Peru guess what I found in my pantry! A bag of quinoa that I had just purchased before my trip. I didn't even know what I'd bought. But now I had just enough confidence to try and make something edible with it. I knew it could be done. I had sampled the goodness just the week before. So I cooked me up a pot (there's that whole bayou thang)...and served it to my children for dinner. And they ate it! And asked for seconds!! I had broken the barrier of the whole grain (at least one of them).

Since then I've been experimenting and I have a recipe (with pictures!) to share.

To 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, add 1/2 cups chopped carrots.

Add 3-4 chopped chives and 1/2 cup chopped sweet peppers.

Toss in 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, 2 T chopped basil & 1 T chopped mint.

Oh my heavens, I wish you could smell this picture.

Add juice from 1/2 a lemon (squeeze through the seasoned fingers of a 6 year old for optimal flavor).

Add 1 T olive oil if you're feeling extra skinny. Or skip this step if your jeans are feeling snug. (You really won't miss it.)
Season to taste with Trocomare or Herbamare (all natural seasoned salt -no weird stuff- I get it at Whole Foods). *I love this pic with Evie stealing a taste of mint from the bowl. Yummy!

Serve with baked chicken and steamed broccoli.


*disclaimer: Although the kids enjoy quinoa plain (or with milk and honey) they weren't ginormous fans of the quinoa summer salad. Dave and I, however, thought it was heaven on a fork.

**According to wikipedia: Quinoa contains a full complement of the amino acids which the human body can't produce itself, making it an unusually complete foodstuff.


Tina said...

I, too, buy whole grains with good intentions then let them lose their nutritious goodness sitting in my pantry. Here's to actually eating yummy whole grains!

Carrien said...

I'm out of quinoa, but I'm bookmarking and trying this as soon as I get some more. This looks so tasty.