QUINOA SALAD WITH RED GRAPES AND AVOCADO

This salad was based on a recipe by Katie Lee featured on the FoodTV show The Kitchen. It was originally made with green grapes, avocados, cucumbers, and a lime dressing. Obviously,  the idea was to have a sort of monochromatic green salad with bright and sharp flavors.  I changed things around by using red grapes instead. Red grapes are quite a bit sweeter, and added a contrast of color I found particularly pleasing. But, let me tell you, no matter what you decide to add to your quinoa salad, please try the cooking method I describe after the recipe.  It is nothing short of life-changing.  Yeah, you read me correctly. Life-changing. For better.

Quinoa SaladQUINOA SALAD WITH RED GRAPES AND AVOCADO 
(adapted from Food TV Network)

(as written, it makes a lot of salad, I more or less halved this recipe, eyeballing most ingredients. I kept the amount of dressing unchanged)

Zest and juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
2 cups green grapes, halved
1 1/2 cups diced cucumbers
fresh parsley, roughly chopped (or fresh cilantro)
1 avocado, diced

In a large bowl, whisk together lime zest, lime juice and olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Toss the quinoa, grapes, cucumbers, parsley, and avocados together with the dressing. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Now, take a moment to look at the beauty of this  perfectly cooked quinoa.

cooked Quinoa
It is really too bad you cannot taste it through the screen, because the texture turned out sublime. The secret? Cooking the seeds in less water than most recipes recommend, and simmering them for only 6 minutes.  I cannot take credit for it, so here is the link to Elaine’s blog, where I found it.

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And here is what I did…

For each cup of quinoa, add 1 + 1/3 cup lightly salted water

Bring to a boil in a saucepan…

Reduce heat, simmer for exactly 6 minutes. That is 360 seconds. Do not open the pan. DO NOT. (I will slap your hand if you try to open it… )

Turn the heat off.  Wait 20 minutes with the pan covered. DO NOT PEEK. DO NOT.

Open the pan (finally!), be mesmerized, amazed, awed by the beauty of the perfectly cooked quinoa, fluff the seeds gently with a fork and use them in any preparation you like.

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For the salad, I simply allowed the cooked quinoa to cool to room temperature, and added all the ingredients plus the simple dressing. The salad keeps well in the fridge for several days and is a great option for a light lunch, if you so desire. Another tip I’d like to share with you: make sure the avocado has a firm texture and only add the pieces when you are about to serve the quinoa.  I did not care for the mushy texture of overly ripe avocados I used the first time I made this dish.  On my second time around, I also added sliced celery.  Turned out delicious, very refreshing. But, you know by now how much we love our celery…

Elaine, thanks so much for sharing your method for perfectly cooked quinoa!  
I won’t be cooking it any other way from now on…  
My life is changed. For better.

🙂

ONE YEAR AGO: Strawberry Coffee Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins

THREE YEARS AGO: Mascarpone Brownies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Salmon Tacos

FIVE YEARS AGOCinnamon Turban Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Summertime Gratin

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: QUINOA FRIED RICE

Did you miss my Bewitching party? Click here to enter the giveaway… 

The month of June brought with it a ton of activities. School is out, so a lot more work in the lab, my blog turned 5 years old, and the World Cup of Indescribable Ordeal is on.  I used to root for one country only, but now two teams make me shout expletives at referees and goal keepers, as well as scream instructions to the players, fuming like a mad woman because they simply  do not listen. But, let’s leave soccer behind and concentrate on things that don’t have the potential to induce a fatal coronary.  Like Reveal Day of  The Secret Recipe Club, always a pleasure, always something I look forward to. This month I got one of the most entertaining food blogs ever!  Starting with its name, 84th and 3rd. Here’s what JJ, an American living in Sydney has to say about it:

84th & 3rd is an ordinary corner, not particularly remarkable, in the most remarkable city in the world. But it was only meters from that corner that a seed was planted, a dream of doing something that she loves and being able to share it with others. 84thand3rd.com is that something.

She divulges just enough to perk my curiosity, and make me want to be there right now. In fact, Australia is one place I long to visit, and hope that one day our adventures will take us there. When I got my assignment, I thought about taking a quick look at the site, but instead I literally had to drag myself away from the computer, because I could not stop reading. Just to give you a small taste of her writing style, here’s a paragraph from one of her posts, in which she talks about her partner…

.… When I met RJ he used to eat at least 4 slices of white bread a day. Not necessarily as part of a meal mind you, but just because. Toast for breakfast, toast before dinner [no matter what or when dinner was], bread with dinner. Sliced, white, from a plastic bag, every time. It appalled me just a bit – as did putting ketchup/tomato sauce on beef stew but we’ll save that one for later… *waves at RJ* hi mate, yes, I’m talking about you again –

 Isn’t she a hoot?  She also describes herself as someone who “Practices yoga to stay calm[ish], runs to stay sane[ish], and does both to eat cake”… I must say I detect some similarities here, although I would substitute bread for cake.  😉 So, after spending a lot of time amusing myself with her stories and recipes, I assembled a list of possibilities for this month’s assignment.  Here they are:  Mushroom-quinoa meatballs with Rustic Pasta Sauce, Strawberry Cucumber Coconut-water Slushy,  Rocket Parsley Pepita Pesto,  Spiced Pear & Red Wine Chocolate Cake, Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde, and this chocolate tarte that I swear I am making before the month of July is over. Yeah, public commitment, you guys and girls better be ready for it… But now it’s time to reveal the recipe that crossed the finish line of this month’s culinary marathon…

Quinoa Fried Rice
QUINOA FRIED RICE
(slightly modified from 84th & 3rd)

2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled (I used red quinoa)
a little olive oil
4 slices ginger, sliced into thin strips
1 small Serrano chili, finely diced
1 bunch of cilantro leaves, minced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
large handful green beans, cut into small lengths
2 medium zucchini, diced
3 scallions ,white and light green part only, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil

Add a small splash of olive oil to the hot pan. Fry ginger and garlic for 30 sec stirring constantly, add chili and cilantro and fry for a further 30 sec.

Add bell pepper and beans, toss or stir for a couple of minutes. Add zucchini and green onions and toss for a couple of minutes more.

Push veggies to edges to make a hole in the center. Drizzle in 2 tsp sesame oil, wait for it to heat up and dump in quinoa. Stir in center of pan for 30 seconds then toss with veggies to mix everything together.

Drizzle in tamari and toss to combine. Serve with extra scallions, and cilantro.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Ingredients
Comments: This was absolutely delicious!  As you can read on her original post, this is the type of recipe you can use to clean up your fridge of all those veggies that wave at you when you open it, begging for attention. It is also a perfect use for leftover quinoa, although I cooked some earlier in the day just to have this side dish as our dinner. Asparagus would work great, but really any veggie could work, even chunks of roasted butternut squash, or eggplant.   Just keep the soy, the sesame oil at the end, and don’t leave out the fresh ginger.

Zucchini-side
I close this post with another excerpt from JJ, which expresses exactly how I feel about blogging.

“Blogging is an interesting beast. It is a person sitting in front of a computer expressing things in pictures and words, terribly solitary from the outside peering in… or so you’d think. But when you look a bit closer you realise that many of those people sitting at their computers have formed little communities. Sometimes online, sometimes in person, generally with people they never would have met otherwise, and it really doesn’t matter how the community works or where it came from but simply that it is there.”
(JJ, from 84th & 3rd)

That’s it, folks.  Could not have said it better!  JJ, it was great to receive your blog as my assignment this  month, I will be following you from now on, looking forward to your adventures! As usual, if you want to check what my fellow secret bloggers cooked up this month, poke the frog below. She is cute and loves attention…

ONE YEAR AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette
TWO YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars
THREE YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini
FOUR YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto
FIVE YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: QUINOA AND SWEET POTATO CAKES

Quinoa Sweet Potato Cakes1
The Secret Recipe Club is a monthly event that pairs food bloggers in secret so that they pick a recipe from their assigned partner, and blog about at the exact same time.  My group always posts on the last Monday of the month, but we had a vacation break in December.  Having barely survived SRC withdrawal syndrome, here I am to report on the outcome of my virtual stalking of Nicole’s site,  Hapa-tite.  I was delighted to learn the rationale behind her blog’s name: Hapa is a Hawaiian word that means “half” and is used to describe a person of mixed race with partial roots in the Asian or Pacific Islander heritage.  Hawaii is one of our favorite spots on earth for a vacation.  We love the atmosphere, the music, the pace of life, the people, and you cannot beat the weather.  Weather?  Sore subject. As I type this on a Sunday morning,  a foot of snow  is laying in our backyard. Simply put: a meteorological tragedy.  But, rather than dwell on the harsh reality of January in Kansas, I will tell you that two other recipes fought very hard to be featured in the Bewitching today: her Chicken-Lime Skewers with Apricot Glaze,  and her Pork Souvlaki.  In the end, the chance to use my black, red & white quinoa made me go for these tasty little fritters.

comp2

QUINOA AND SWEET POTATO CAKES
(from Hapa-tite,  inspired by original recipe from Cannelle & Vanille)

makes 8 cakes

1/2 cup (90 g) quinoa, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 + /2 cups (about 200 g) grated sweet potato
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs
1/3 cup (50 g) Panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
grape seed oil for frying
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Bring 1 cup (250 ml) of water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add quinoa and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir, reduce heat to medium low, cover with a lid, and cook for 20 minutes until quinoa has absorbed all the water and it’s tender. Set aside to cool.
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Heat a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and cook the shallot for 3 minutes. Add the grated sweet potato, 1/4 teaspoon salt, coriander, and black pepper, and cook for another 3 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
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In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, and chives. Add the cooled quinoa and sweet potato mixture. Stir to combine.
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Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add enough grape seed oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture and shape it into a round cake. Add enough cakes to the pan without overcrowding it. Cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Finish frying all the cakes. Drain them on paper towels before serving.
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ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Frying1

Comments: Aren’t these cakes the most colorful thing ever?  I modified the recipe a little bit, adding more sweet potato than called for, and using a mixture of different quinoa colors instead of only white.  They turned out quite festive.  Those who have gluten intolerance can use gluten-free bread crumbs, or I suppose almond flour could go well too.  You could probably get by with only 1/4 cup of almond flour as a binder.   I also think some grated ginger could be fantastic together with the coriander and the herbs.  Fun things to try.

Nicole, it was great to get to know your blog a little better this month, I see that 2014 will bring wonderful things to your life, like moving to a new home and getting married…  Good luck with all your projects, and if you succeed in de-cluttering, tell me your secret!  😉

If you want to see what my fellow Secreters were concocting in their kitchens this month, poke the blue frog at the end of the post. I think she might be Hawaiian, who knows?   She sure seems to have that aura of happiness that comes with the islands…

ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin Bolo de Fuba’ Cremoso

TWO YEARS AGO: Citrus-crusted Tilapia Filets

THREE YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, not just for Hippies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Flourless Chocolate Cake

QUINOA WITH CIDER-GLAZED CARROTS

A note to subscribers:  Google Reader will shutdown on July 1st, 2013. If you have a subscription to this blog through Google Reader, please sign up for email notifications, or switch to another reader. I recommend Feedly or Bloglovin.  They will automatically retrieve all your Google reader subscriptions. 

I’ ve had plenty of versions of quinoa in the past, but this one takes the number one spot. The carrots added a sweet-sour note, the thinly sliced almonds a delicious crunch, and the quinoa married them together with its light and refreshing nature. Cannot praise this dish enough. I was inspired by this recipe from Bon Appetit, and decided to come up with a version to be served hot instead of cold, but with similar flavors. If you are searching for a recipe to please vegetarians or a perfect side dish for pork, poultry,  perhaps a thick slab of grilled salmon, look no further. This is perfect!

served22

QUINOA WITH CIDER-GLAZED CARROTS AND ALMONDS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Bon Appetit)

1 cup quinoa, very well rinsed and drained
salt
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced at an angle
2 Tbsp apple cider
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon

Heat oven to 450°. Bring quinoa and 4 cups lightly salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa is tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain; return quinoa mixture to saucepan, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl; let cool.

Meanwhile, lightly coat a large rimmed baking sheet with oil (or cover it with parchment paper). Whisk cider and honey in a large bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper. Add carrots and toss to coat. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and roast until tender, 15-20 minutes. Let cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the almonds and cook over low heat until fragrant.  Set aside, keeping it warm.

Whisk vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add carrots and almonds to quinoa mixture and toss to coat. Drizzle the vinegar & lemon mixture and mix well tp combine all ingredients.  Adjust seasoning if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you are new to cooking the seeds of Chenopodium quinoa, please remember to rinse them extensively.  The seeds  have a natural coating of saponins that taste very bitter.  Processing the seeds for sale includes pre-washing, but you will notice that the water still foams slightly once you soak the seeds.  A couple of years ago, I read somewhere that quinoa goes rancid very easily, so the advice given was to store it for  no more than 6 months (or freeze it).   I tried to find a source for this information,  but now I find plenty of sites stating that it lasts for several years in the pantry.  Oh, well. I guess one can always open the bag and do a sniff test.

Cooked quinoa freezes very well, so you can prepare a full bag and portion it in the freezer for later. I actually cooked it on a Saturday and made this recipe for our dinner on Tuesday.  Pork tenderloin kebabs completed the meal, but the truth is we both raved about the quinoa a lot more.  Bonus:  we got our intake of carrots all taken care of!  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Celebrate Wednesday: Heirloom Tomatoes Steal the Show

TWO YEARS AGO: Pain de Provence

THREE YEARS AGO: Golspie Loaf, from the Scottish Highlands

RED THEME FOR A SALAD

As the weather gets warmer, I opt for a light lunch whenever possible. However, after a workout session with  Tony Horton, I need a lot more than a serving of lettuce with some parsley sprinkled all over it.   😉 Last week I prepared a salad based on red quinoa with a bit more substance, but still compatible with the 90F day.  It turned out delicious!  It lasted a couple of days in the fridge, and got even better.  If you do that, just bring it to room temperature half an hour or so before lunch time.

QUINOA SALAD WITH ROASTED BEETS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for ginger-orange vinaigrette
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1/8 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
1 Tbs sugar (or less, if you prefer)
1 Tbs grated ginger
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
salt and pepper to taste

for salad:
1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
2 medium beets, peeled and cut in large chunks
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 celery stalks. diced
fresh mozzarella cheese. diced
walnut pieces, toasted

Place the rinsed quinoa in a rice cooker, add 2 cups of water and a little salt.  Cook, adding a little more water if when the machine turns off you think the quinoa is too crunchy for your taste.   It should be ready in 15 to 20 minutes.  Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and let it cool.   Reserve.

In a medium bowl, place the pieces of beets, add a little olive oil just enough to coat the pieces, season with salt and pepper.  Transfer the pieces to a baking sheet, and place in a 400 – 420 F oven to roast until done (about 40 minutes, depending on the size).  Reserve.

Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the vinegar, orange juice and zest and the sugar, until the sugar dissolves.  Add the oil slowly to form an emulsion, and season with salt and pepper.   You won’t need to use it all, save the leftover in the fridge, it keeps for about 1 week.

Assemble the salad by mixing all the ingredients and adding as much dressing as you like.  Adjust seasoning, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

My little rice cooker does a great job cooking all sorts of grains (and seeds, like quinoa).  I usually don’t bother with precise amounts of water, I try to add less rather than too much.  In case the cooker turns off but the grains are not exactly how I want them, I add a small amount of water and switch it back on for a few minutes.

I wanted to have this salad over a bed of baby spinach, but forgot all about it when I first made it.   On the following day, with the spinach, the salad looked really nice, but then I forgot to take pictures.   Such is life.  But, please feel free to  use your imagination!    😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Couscous Salad with Zucchini and Pine Nuts

TWO YEARS AGO:  A Simple Salad a la Jacques Pepin

(that proves that three years in a row I’ve got salad in my mind! ;-))

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