Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Keen on quinoa

Suddenly, I'm crazy for quinoa...
Quinoa salad with chickpeas, lemon and mint by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

This week, I made a light-tasting, but filling quinoa salad with a refreshing hit of mint, dressed with lemon. No oil, and I didn't miss it. This salad is adapted from Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s “Splendid Table” newsletter. Do you listen to Lynne? I try and catch her program when the show airs on Saturdays. I also download the podcasts to listen to when I’m working in the kitchen. Aside from the delight of listening to her velvety voice talk about food, Lynne has an infectious laugh. She also talks about food in a way that makes me want to take notes and get into my kitchen and cook. Her book “The Splendid Table: How to Eat Supper” written with her producer Sally Swift is just like the radio show, but with pictures – you will absolutely find a new family favorite in there. My favorite find so far is a new technique for garlic bread that turns out great every time.

The quinoa salad recipe came across my radar on a day when I knew I needed to clean out my refrigerator and pantry. Scanning the recipe, which began as a couscous salad with beans, I knew I had all the veggies called for, plus a can of chickpeas. But I didn’t have the couscous. Instead, I had quinoa. Have you tried quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah)? It’s one of those good-and-good-for-you grains (okay, technically a seed) that we hear about, but don’t necessarily go the extra step and toss a box into the grocery basket. Here’s a reason to toss it into your basket on your next grocery visit  - the grains cook in 15 minutes and taste great. You may think they taste nutty, but if you ask me, quinoa is all about the texture – plus that cute little white curl of germ that pops out of the hull. Nutritionally speaking, quinoa is a complete protein, so even though we’re pairing it with beans, it would fill you up anyway, the beans are just a bonus. Quinoa is also gluten-free (two words that do not pop up on my blog very often, but probably should). It’s a good source of fiber, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. In summary: you can feel good about your dose of quinoa.

Summer Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Mint

Juice of one-half lemon

½ large shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon salt, divided

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

3 cups cooked quinoa (from one cup, uncooked)

1 stalk celery, cut into ¼ inch dice

¼ cup raisins

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained

¼ cup mint leaves, rolled tightly and sliced in a chiffonade

¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped, (optional)

1. In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, shallot, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and let stand while you pull together the rest of the dish.

2. Add the quinoa, chickpeas, celery, raisins, mint and olives, if using. Toss together. Taste for seasoning and add remaining salt and pepper, or maybe lemon juice, if needed. Serve at room temperature or place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve. If seving from the refrigerator, let it sit for a few minutes to shake off the chill - this salad is best at room temp.

1 comment:

Grace Hwang Lynch said...

Quinoa is such an underappreciated grain. The mint and garbanzo beans would give a nice Mediterranean flavor, too!