Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a pseudograin. Grains are the edible seeds of grasses, while pseudograins are seeds that are used as grains but come from non-grass plants. Amaranth and buckwheat are also pseudograins. Pseudograins tend to be higher in protein and micronutrients than grass grains. Quinoa is often referred to as an ancient grain and is native to the high Andes regions of South America. Many years ago I made this salad for a teacher appreciation day and one of the teachers called me and said she had never had food that tasted so alive. She said it was all she wanted to eat. She asked for the recipe. To be honest, I had to invent one because I just through it together. I often now make the salad with sprouted quinoa. Directions on how to sprout quinoa are below. The cooked quinoa can simply been replaced by sprouted quinoa (sprout 1 cup of quinoa).
1 cup (250 ml) quinoa
2 cups (500 ml) water
Rinse quinoa thoroughly before cooking to remove the naturally occurring bitter resin which coats the grain. Add 1 cup (250 ml) of quinoa to 2 cups (500 ml) of boiling water and salt. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until water is all absorbed. Let cool completely.
1 cup (250 ml) edamame, red beans or black beans (or a mix)
1/2 cup (125 ml) olives, sliced (optional)
1 colored pepper, diced (if using red cherry tomatoes, select yellow or orange)
2 cups (500 ml) cherry tomatoes (multicultured in available), sliced in half or larger tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
3 green onions
1 bunch generous bunch of parsley, diced
1 cup (250 ml) basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) mint, finely chopped (optional)
Prepare vegetables and toss in a large bowl with cooked and cooled quinoa.
2 Tbsp (30 ml) flaxseed, avocado or olive oil or 2 Tbsp (30 ml) tahini
1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon or lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 1/2 Tbsp (22.5 ml) tamari
3 garlic cloves, pressed
Pepper, to taste
Mix dressing in a jar. Toss salad with dressing and serve.
Growing Quinoa Sprouts (Jar Method)
Using a in a fine sieve, rinse 1 cup (250 ml) of quinoa thoroughly to get rid of any soapy tasting saponin in the seed coat. Place the quinoa in a jar with a sprouting lid (or mesh held on with an elastic) and 2 cups (500 ml) of water. Allow seeds to soak for 12 hours. Drain off the soak water, rinse thoroughly several times, and drain again. Tilt the jar upside down and at a 45 degree angle so that it can drain into a saucer or sink. Room temperature; 70 F (21 C) is ideal. Rinse and drain the quinoa every 8 to 12 hours for 1 to 2 days until most of the seeds have sprouted tiny (1/4 inch/0.6 cm) roots. Drain well, and use in place of cooked quinoa in the salad. Decorate the salad with whatever you have on hand. In the picture above, I used home-grown sunflower sprouts, tomatoes and pine nuts.