I discovered quinoa several years ago when I was experimenting with making variations of The Classic Lebanese Tabboulé. Quinoa, like couscous, I found to be a great substitute for fine bulgur in making tabboulé-like salads. It carries enough flavor, texture, and bite, to stand on its own. In fact, quinoa adds a wonderful creamy-soft texture that makes for a pleasant variation compared to other whole grains.
This tasty gluten-free grain is packed with all the 9 essential amino acids – which makes it a complete protein. Cooks quickly and fluffs up like rice, delicate, creamy and nutty in flavor, with cloudy-light texture and a gentle crunch. Quinoa is also available in the form of flakes, which are a great substitute for oatmeal. Great in salads, stuffings, pilafs, baked dishes and breakfast cereals. A super grain, that’s super healthy and super good. If you haven’t already, check out my post The Wondrous Wonders of Whole Grains for general cooking methods.
Key technique for cooking with quinoa is to be sure to rinse them well to rid its bitterness.
Greek quinoa salad with chickpeas, tomatoes and fresh mint
Here, quinoa is gently tossed with chickpeas, tomatoes, scallions and fresh mint, then lightly coated with lemon-evoo dressing, gives it a Greek-flavor-character that perfectly complements the season and the sun rays. Feel free to add some oregano and dill, and crumble some feta for another variation.
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups cold water plus salt
1/2 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight, cooked until tender, rinsed, drained
2 vine ripe tomatoes, medium dice
½ cup fresh mint leaves, chiffonade
½ cup scallion or green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, germ removed and finely grated
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Rinse quinoa grains well to rid the bitter taste.
On medium heat, in a medium pan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water, add the quinoa grains, and bring to boil again. Turn heat down to low-medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until quinoa grains completely absorb the liquid and become fluffy. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, then transfer to a salad bowl; allow to cool.
Gently fold in the chickpeas, tomatoes, scallions and mint leaves into the quinoa.
Separately whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and black pepper; season to taste. Add the dressing to the salad, mix well and allow the salad to rest for 30 minutes to better infuse the flavors.
Serve on its own, or as a side dish to tender steamed fish filets, braised chicken or as an appetizer served in avocado halves or radicchio leaves.
Serves 8 as a side dish