It seems like only a couple of years ago that quinoa was considered the mystery unpronounceable grain that was only purchasable at natural food stores.
Quinoa - pronounced keen-wah, not keen-o-a, or if you’re my mother, keen-oh-way - is actually an ancient seed related to Swiss chard and beets.
Who would have thought? Quinoa sprouts like a grain, it’s used like a grain, it tastes grain-esque... but nope, mysterious quinoa is actually a seed with all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is also high in riboflavin, has slow-burning carbohydrates and is naturally gluten-free.
Recently, the quinoa tables have turned. Not only is it a pronounceable household name, but it can be found at any grocery store. The well-loved seed is a popularly used in place of pasta, incorporated into various salads, mixed with milk and fruit for porridge-like breakfasts, mixed with vegetables to make veggie burger patties, and the list goes on and on.
One cup of dry quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked, which makes cooking for large families or get-togethers a breeze.
Which brings me to my next point. I love making quinoa salad in place of pasta salad to bring to barbecues in the summer time. Gone are the days of mayo-drenched potato salad.
Quinoa salads are an excellent gluten-free option, they’re healthy and they taste great, making them a real crowd pleaser. Mediterranean quinoa salad is my all-time favorite because it’s chock full of flavorful goodies, giving it a huge flavor punch. Plus it goes with just about any meat or fish recipe!
How do you make light and fluffy quinoa? The ticket to perfect quinoa is rinsing it very well before cooking. Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin which can make it taste bitter when it is not rinsed off. For this reason, rinsing the quinoa in a fine strainer until the water that comes off of it is clear, not cloudy, is key to a delicious, fluffy quinoa.
Between the tangy sun-dried tomatoes, olives, feta and the nutty healthy quinoa, this salad is a staple in my house. The whole thing can be made in under 40 minutes, making it a steal of a deal! Barbecue season is coming – time to stock up on your keen-wah!
Check out the recipe below and also consider this Quinoa granola recipe for another great use of the versatile seed.