Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Quinoa - It's Good Tasting and Fun Saying

Kee-no-ah. Sound it out now, boys and girls! Kee-no-ah. In addition to being a fun word to say and a great topic of conversation at dinner parties (MY dinner parties at least), quinoa is super healthy for you. In fact, it's often called a super food because its set of amino acides makes it a complete protein. It is also high in dietary fibre, magnesium, and iron. Thank you, Wikipedia!
I like quinoa because it has great texture. Raw, they look like little balls. Cooked, they unravel a bit and have a tiny little tail of sorts that pops out. It's a bit nutty, a bit soft, but still a nice little crunch. It makes GREAT salads and can replace brown rice, orzo, or any other type of pasta. It's also great served as a side for chicken, fish, a chickpea stew, whatever you dream up. It is very mild in flavor so for me, the true value is the interesting texture it lends to dishes. And of course, it's super health features.
This salad is my favorite. It's got a nice crunch from the fresh vegetables, the heartiness of the quinoa, protein and flavor from the chicken and chicken stock, sweetness from the raisins, and a nice added texture from the sliced almonds.

Quinoa Chicken Salad
2.5 Cups diced chicken
1 cup quinoa
1.5 cups chicken stock
1 rib of celery diced
Half red pepper diced
¾ c. diced cucumber
½ tsp salt
½ tsp tumeric
Ground pepper
1 scallion, finely sliced
2 tbs golden raisins
Sliced almonds for garnish

Rinse the quinoa twice with boiling water, letting it sit for 2 minutes each time. Then rinse the quinoa with cold water until the water is clear when rinsed. Quinoa can have a bitter husk or shell that is easily removed by thorough rinsing.
In a pot, bring the quinoa, chicken stock, tumeric, golden raisins, and 1/2 tsp salt to a boil. Add pepper to taste. Once boiling, lower the heat until the quinoa is simmering gently. Allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa looks dry. Turn off the heat, and let the quinoa sit in the pot for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, fluff the quinoa with a fork and let it cool completely.

Once cool, toss the quinoa with the diced chicken, diced cuccumber, celery, red pepper, and sliced scallions. Garnish the dish with sliced almonds. It's also great with a little bit of yogurt.
**Note - This can easily be turned vegetarian by using vegetable stock or plain water and omitting the chicken**

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