Quinoa, ugly and delicious
For real. I love incorporating quinoa into salads and showcasing it as a delicious and less likely side dish, but man, it’s hard to make it pretty. I tend to fancy it up with lovely vegetables or plate it with other good looking proteins or sauces. My favorite thing lately is a kitchen sink type of quinoa salad. I grill up a bunch of veggies (or better yet, use left over ones), cook and cool the quinoa, make a bracing and acidic dressing and shower the final mix with fresh herbs. If you make the quinoa before and grill extra stuff, it’s really fast to put together.
A few things-I have read a bunch about the best way to cook quinoa and here is what I know is true.
One cup of quinoa to 1 3/4 cup of liquid for cooking (I almost always use broth or stock).
Rinse and rub the hell out of the quinoa under cold running water in a fine strainer for a couple of minutes and then dry in a hot saucepan for a couple of minutes. (This takes away any bitterness)
Once cooked, I usually put the pan into an ice bath to cool it down so it stops cooking and doesn’t get gummy.
That’s it folks! Here is the recipe for a very popular quinoa salad that I actually think doesn’t look too, too terrible.
Quinoa Salad with Grilled Veggies and Red Wine Vinaigrette
Serves 2-3 as a side dish
1/2 cup quinoa (washed well)
3/4 cup broth, stock or water
1/2 teaspoon oil
1/4 cup grilled or roasted and diced red pepper
1/2 cup grilled or roasted and diced eggplant
1/2 cup grilled or roasted and diced zucchini or yellow squash
1/4 cup grilled or roasted and diced red onion
1 ear of corn, grilled or roasted, and cut off the cob
6-8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon coarse mustard
1 teaspoon smooth dijon mustard
1 small mashed garlic clove
1/2 shallot, minced finely
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano (or a teaspoon dry)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the quinoa by boiling the liquid, dumping in the quinoa and oil and bringing back to the boil. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting, cover and set a timer for about 15 minutes. When it’s cooked (taste it!), stick the whole pan in a large bowl of ice cubes and water to cool down. Once cool, fold in the vegetables.
Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisking till emulsified. Alternately, you can throw them all whole into a vitamix or cuisinart and blitz them into a dressing.
Carefully add the dressing to your salad, tasting to make sure you don’t over dress. Add salt and pepper to taste and if you like, add another handful of herbs (chives or parsley) to the finished salad.