Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rainbow Quinoa

I really enjoy colorful food, particularly as the weather gets warmer.  This warm organic beet and avocado quinoa salad was pretty to look at, and healthy also!  Quinoa is the seed of a leafy green that is high in protein, essential amino acids, dietary fiber and also gluten free, so it is quite healthy to eat.  When cooked properly, it has a nice chewy, mildly nutty texture that is fun to eat.  We had these beautiful beets from the farmer's market that were pinkish red on the outside but mostly white with small pinkish red swirls on the inside.  Not only were they sweet, but they also did not stain everything red, which is sometimes one of the annoying aspects about working with beets.  It's always a delightful surprise when you peel the roasted beets and find pretty patterns and colors inside.  Outside of roasting the beets, this dish can be put together in under 15 minutes.
  1. Roast the beets by drizzling them with olive oil, salt and pepper, wrapping them in aluminum foil and popping them in the oven at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes, until they can be pierced through easily with a fork.  After they are done and cooled, peel the beets and chop into bite size pieces
  2. Bring two cups of water (or chicken / vegetable stock for extra flavor), 1 cup of quinoa and 1/4 tsp of salt to a boil, then reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until all the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally
  3. Chop 1-2 ripe avocados into bite sized cubes
  4. Chop 3-4 green onions thinly
  5. Soak 1/2 cup of a combination of raisins and cranberries or other dried fruit in warm water for five minutes and then drain
  6. For the dressing, combine the zest of 1 lemon, 1 TB of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 tsp each of: cumin, paprika, coriander, salt, 3 TB of olive oil, freshly ground pepper, and whisk all together
  7. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss together: the cooked quinoa, beets, avocados, green onions, raisins / cranberries, dressing, 1/4 cup of sliced almonds, and salt and pepper to taste
It's a tasty, simple and flavorful dish: the chewy quinoa accented by the sweetness of the beets, raisins and cranberries, with the creaminess of the avocados, with a little punch from the green onions and crunch from the almonds, brought together with the dressing which is fresh and fragrant from the fresh lemon zest and juice with warmth from the cumin, coriander, paprika spices.  I also like to add fresh herbs such as basil and thyme if I have them around.

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