“A recently rediscovered ancient “grain” native to South America, quinoa was once called “the gold of the Incas,” who recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. Not only is quinoa’s amino acid profile well balanced, making it a good choice for vegans concerned about adequate protein intake, but quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. In addition to protein, quinoa features a host of other health-building nutrients. Because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous, this “grain” may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.”
One of my favorite ways to make this grain is making quinoa tabbouleh. I have always liked tabbouleh, traditionally made with wheat. But I have to say that this is one time when the “traditional” way to prepare something has been beat by a new way of doing things.
Traditionally tabbouleh is more of a garnish with very high amounts of parsley, but I like to serve it as a side dish, so this contains a little less parsley than a traditional tabbouleh would. I am reacting to tomatoes right now, so you won’t see them in the recipe below, but would be wonderful in this dish (and is usually used), so feel free to add it. You can make tabbouleh as simple or complex as you want. I have had tabbouleh with just green onions and parsley added with the dressing, which was still great. But you could also add in roasted chicken to make it more of a main dish.
If you aren’t going to soak your quinoa, cook with 4 cups of water. The quinoa will absorb water as it soaks, so you don’t need as much when you cook it. You may have to play around with the amount of water to cooking water to get it right, but 1 1/2 cups per cup of grain has worked really well for me.
2 cups of quinoa-soak overnight in water with a 1-2 tablespoons of lemon, whey, buttermilk or other acidic element. Rinse in the morning in a fine sieve .
3 cups of water
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped (1 bunch)
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 cucumber, deseeded, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cook soaked and rinsed quinoa in the three cups of water by bringing it to a boil in a medium size pot and then turning down the heat and simmering for 10-15 minutes covered. The quinoa should be tender and look “sprouted” and the water should be absorbed. If the quinoa seems to be cooked through and there is still a little water left, you can pour off. Cool quinoa by running cold water over it in a fine sieve and draining well or placing in the refrigerator for several hours.
After the quinoa is cooled, add the chopped vegetables to the quinoa. Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and pour over quinoa and veggies. Toss together and adjust with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or cold.