Quinoa, pronounced, KEEYNWA. (N.) – An amazingly versatile, extremely healthy, complete protein packed, Peruvian whole grain.
These little guys changed my life. Well, actually we have a love/hate relationship, but that relationship changed me for the better. I discovered quinoa about 2 years ago, allowing it to serve as my whole grain option to avoid all types of complex carbohydrate cravings. From it I made side dishes, entrees, pilafs, risottos, salad toppers, and on the go throw in a Ziploc during class snack. I also learned very quickly that quinoa four times per week makes you hate it, but isn’t that the case with everything in life! All things in proper balance is my motto.
I cannot explain what it is that I love about it. Maybe it’s the way that it can be so smooth and creamy, but still pack a crunch. Or maybe it is the awesome nutty flavor. I really think it’s the fact that it is truly so versatile. You can literally write up a laundry list full of combinations and creations.
Last night I decided to put together a side dish for my lemon balsamic chicken. I chose a simple tabouli salad, but without the bulgar wheat. Instead I used some left over quinoa I had from a previous night’s dinner. It was perfect. The crunch of the peppers and the toasted almonds, the flavor of the onions and parsley, and a little hint of tomato. It was so fresh…. definitely an awesome summer night salad! Ooops, too bad the snow was hanging heavy in the clouds. On top of all that flavor, there is nothing I love more than a cold grainy salad that has feta cheese immersed within it. It sticks to every bite you take and provides that extra kick that you don’t expect! I barely even needed the grilled chicken, as this is definitely a dish in and of itself.
For you first timers, this is an awesome way to give quinoa a run for it’s money. It might look sort of odd, but don’t let the appearance fool you, it’s delicious!
Quinoa Tabouli Salad
Yields 2 servings
30 minutes prep + 30 minutes for cooling
1 cup Quinoa
2 cups water (Or chicken broth)
1 medium Vidalia onion
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup toasted almond pieces
Yellow Bell Pepper
Red Bell Pepper
Reduced Fat Feta Cheese Crumbles
¼ cup Light Italian Dressing (Newman’s!) or Olive oil
Juice from Half of a Lemon
Pinch of Salt
Begin this dish by cooking your quinoa. Boil the water or chicken broth in a medium saucepan. As soon as it hits boil, toss in the dry quinoa, allowing it to boil for a 2 or 3 minutes. The rest of the cook time should be spent on a covered simmer, stirring every so often. Allow all the liquid to be absorbed!
As the quinoa is cooking, prep your ingredients.
Dice the Vidalia onion and sauté it until soft in the olive oil.
Toast the almond pieces. You can do this on the stove or in the oven.
Finely chop at least half a bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley. I use about 10 or 12 sprigs, removing most of the stems.
Dice both varieties of bell peppers. As much or as little as you like!
Seed and chop at Least 2 Roma Tomatoes.
When the quinoa is fully cooked, use a wooden spoon to add in the cooked onion and toasted almonds. Immediately place this mixture in the fridge for at least 20 minutes or until fully cooled.
Before serving, toss the cooled quinoa with the Parsley, tomato, Peppers, and a big handful of feta crumbles. Use either the olive oil or dressing, and then add lemon juice, Mint, and Salt to finish it off!