Quinoa 101 – What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a wonderful thing…once you figure out how to pronounce it, so let’s start there. Keen-wah. Keen-wah. Now you try…Perfect!
Quinoa is an
ancient grain. Nope, despite the fact that quinoa is referred to as a whole grain, it’s actually a seed of a plant called goosefoot. Despite that, it’s typically referred to as a grain because we use/cook it like a grain. Quinoa’s believed to have been used by the Incans thousands upon thousands of years ago.
It contains all 9 essential amino acids, which classifies it as a complete protein. One cup of quinoa has 8 grams of protein and it contains more calcium, iron, potassium and zinc than many other grains.
I use quinoa as a base for salads or in place of rice or couscous in other dishes. It’s easy to cook, with a warm, nutty taste that pairs easily with other flavor.
Quinoa can be cooked and stored in the fridge for 3-5 days or frozen for up to two months.
Quinoa 101 – How to Cook Quinoa?
You can cook quinoa in a few simple steps.
1. Rinse quinoa in cold water to gently remove the saponin, it’s dusty outer coating. If left in place it can give your quinoa a bitter taste.
2. Bring 1 part quinoa, 2 parts water (or vegetable/chicken stock) to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, without removing the lid, for 15 minutes.
3. Remove pot from heat and let quinoa sit, still covered, 5 minutes.
4. Remove lid and fluff with a fork.
Quinoa, Kale & Apple Salad
Now, about this salad, it’s a winner. It has all the things I love in a salad – a little savory, a little sweet, a little crunch. It’s light but filling at the same time and it’s pretty good for you with a superfood base, kale, apples, almonds and cranberries tossed in. Slice up a grilled chicken breast to hearty it up a bit and you’ll have a salad that’ll even satisfy the carnivores at your table.
Rinse quinoa thoroughly to remove its natural coating, saponin. It can give your cooked quinoa a bitter taste.
Don’t remove the lid while your quinoa’s simmering. You need the steam trapped in the pot to fully cook your grain.
Let your quinoa cool completely before adding your remaining ingredients. Hot quinoa will soften the veggies when you add them.
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed well
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups chopped Granny Smith Apple
- 2 cups chopped kale
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium pot. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes without removing the lid.
- Remove pot from heat and let sit for 5 minutes without removing the lid. Spread quinoa on a baking sheet and let cool to room temperature.
- Whisk vinegar, mustard and honey together in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil and add salt and pepper.
- Place cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Add chopped apple, kale, red onion, cranberries and almonds. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss until salad is well mixed and evenly coated.