This tasty salad is easy to make and packed with vitamins and minerals! Perfect for a light lunch or as a refreshing side.
The Incas called Quinoa, chisaya mama, the ‘mother of all grains’, and considered it to be so sacred that the Sapa Inca (or Emperor) would sow the first seeds of the season using tools made of gold.
Being an incredibly hardy crop, it formed part of the culinary culture of Peru and sustained the Imperial Inca army in its conquests. When the Spanish Conquistadors arrived, they suppressed the farming of Quinoa because of its association with ceremonies in honour of the local Mother Earth goddess, Pachamama.
Centuries later, Quinoa has recently been ‘rediscovered’ as an important staple and superfood.
Quinoa is a member of the spinach, chard and beet family. The leaves of the plant can be prepared like spinach but it is mostly the seeds from its many small flowers, which are harvested.
The seeds have a delicate nutty flavour and a firm texture. They are gluten-free, easy to digest, light and quite satisfying.
As a complete protein, they provide the same value as meat or fish, and are rich in essential amino acids, calcium, phosphorous and iron. They also contain slow release carbohydrates, which is quite satisfying and sustains you for longer.
Quinoa is incredibly versatile and is delicious served hot or cold. It can be used in its seed form for salads, in soups, as a substitute for rice, pasta, breadcrumbs, and even to make beer! Ground down, the protein-rich flour is used to make breads, cookies and cakes.
Store bought quinoa has usually already been pre-washed to remove the saponins which give a bitter taste, but can be washed before cooking for a smoother taste. There is no need to pre-soak.
Types of Quinoa:
- White – has the mildest flavour. Once cooked, it has the fluffiest texture and is perfect as a substitute for rice.
- Red – has a nuttier flavour and chewier texture. It is perfect for baking as it holds its shape well.
- Black – has a sweet and earthy flavour, and is also great for baking.
This recipe uses white quinoa. When cooked in water, it swells, so 1 cup of quinoa will make 3 cups.
- Toast the quinoa in a pan before cooking it – it gives a delicious nutty flavour!
- It is best to cook the quinoa in advance so it has a chance to dry out, before preparing the salad.
- This salad tastes even better if it is refrigerated for a couple of hours before serving.
Simple quinoa salad
- 1 cup quinoa the white variety
- 1 1/2 cups water/vegetable/chicken broth
- 1 medium red onion, chopped small
- 1 medium tomato, chopped small
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 3 tablespoons fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped finely
- 10 mint leaves, chopped finely
- 1 cup corn
- 2 spring onions/scallions, bulbs and stalks, chopped finely
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
First rinse the quinoa well under cold water in a fine mesh strainer. In a small saucepan, add the quinoa and salt to the water and bring to a boil. Stir, cover and turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. When liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and spread on a large plate to cool and fluff with a fork.
Once cool, transfer to a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix and rest for 15 minutes. Best served chilled with wedges of boiled eggs.
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