Originally posted July 5, 2012. Revised May 2015.
Once considered a sacred crop to the ancient Incas, quinoa was referred to as chisaya mama or “mother of all grains.” Dating back more than 7,000 years, quinoa originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru where is was successfully domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago for human consumption. Technically, quinoa is not a true grain but rather the seed of the Goosefoot plant; it’s often substituted for grains because it looks and cooks like one. Once cooked, it has a fluffy consistency, similar to that of couscous or rice, but with a mild, nutty flavor and a slight “crunch” to it when eaten.
Nutritionally, quinoa is a high protein food that can serve as a cholesterol-free, high fiber substitute for meat. Containing eight of the nine essential amino acids found in meats, quinoa is an excellent vegetarian substitution for animal protein. It has zero saturated fat is a good source of iron, calcium and magnesium; one cooked cup has eight grams of protein and five grams of fiber. Quinoa is a versatile food that is healthy and satisfying.
Adapted from a recipe I found on chetday.com this salad can be served warm or chilled and makes for an excellent leftover lunch or dinner the following day. It’s also a good dish to bring to an outdoor picnic as the ingredients will stay fresh long after the sun sets!
Quinoa Salad and Soy-Citrus Dressing
Recipe by Christy Wilson
Servings: 2 1/2 cups
Time: 20 minutes
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 medium carrots, diced
- 1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
- 5 medium mushrooms, chopped
- 1/3 cup cilantro, minced
- Juice from 1 lemon
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (can substitute liquid aminos if allergic to soy)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced and smashed into a paste-like consistency
*Optional: 1 tsp chili sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper
- Rinse quinoa in a strainer and drain.
- Place quinoa in a pot and toast it until you hear a few grains “pop” and become aromatic.
- Add 1 1/2 cups water to the quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
- While the quinoa is cooking, add olive oil, carrot and onion to a medium sized skillet and sauté vegetables over medium heat. After a few minutes, add mushrooms to the carrot mixture and cook until softened (2-3 minutes).
- Once quinoa is cooked remove from heat and let stand for 10 min. Fluff with a fork and let it cool slightly.
- In a small dish, whisk together the lemon and lime juices, soy sauce and garlic (and optional chili sauce or cayenne).
- In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, sautéed carrot mixture and fresh cilantro together. Pour lemon mixture over the salad and combine to mix.
- Chill or serve warm.