Quinoa Salad

My friend Juniper B. has a great fondness for food, especially for ingredients that have been forgotten or not as commonly used in American cuisine. She has a great fondness for other traditional foods, too, but the stuff that I learned about, like the following recipe, is the stuff that I would have never even heard off if it wasn’t for Juniper.

This recipe calls for quinoa, a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. It has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous.

We modified Juniper’s original recipe a little by adding chopped radishes and diced cooked green beans. The results were outstanding. Trader Joe’s now carry two varieties of quinoa – both organic, regular and red – and the recipe works well with either.

Since I am terrible with quantities, the following are only approximations. You’ll need to adjust according to taste.

1 C. quinoa
2 C. water
1/2 bunch of radishes, quartered and sliced thinly
1/2 C. cooked green beans, diced to 1/4-inch size
1/2 C. chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 C. apple cider vinegar
1/4 C. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa in water and bring to a rapid boil. Stop the cooking process when the germ begins to “unfurl” and separate from the seed. Drain. Toss in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Juniper said that you’d be surprised how much apple cider vinegar you will need. She’s right. The half-cup is just an approximation – you might need to add more.

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