The Secret Method to Cooking Deliciously Healthy Quinoa

The Secret Method to Cooking Deliciously Healthy Quinoa

The Secret Method to Cooking Deliciously Healthy Quinoa

 

Let’s demystify quinoa.

First of all, it’s pronounced “KEEN wah”.  No big deal, right?

Secondly, it’s a seed that’s cooked and typically used as a side dish, similar to rice.

Thirdly, while we used to have to muck about and wash a bag of quinoa umpteen million times, most packaged quinoa comes pre-washed now, saving us a lot of hassle.

And finally, if you want it to really sing, boil the seeds, and then steam them. That second process is the secret to really opening up the seeds, making them fluffier for dishes like the salad I introduce further on down the page.

The photo below is a quinoa plant. It’s native to South America, particularly Peru and Bolivia, where folks have been cooking its seeds for thousands of years. It was a favorite in ancient Inca, in fact.

Gorgeous, no?

 

Quinoa salad with black beans, corn, and avocado: Beautiful Peruvian quinoa plants.

 

And, you know what? It’s becoming more and more popular in the U.S. as well. Check out this chart.

 

Quinoa salad with black beans, corn, and avocado: Quinoa imports to the U.S. by year.

 

Have you tried quinoa before? If not, you need to give it a go because it’s a super healthy rice substitute, and is a great base for many different dishes from salads to chocolate cake. Yes, you read it right. Chocolate cake.

Loaded with protein, fiber, (8 and 5 grams per cup respectively) and other nutrients, quinoa is a hands-down winner especially when you consider that it’s also gluten-free.

This quinoa salad is one that I’ve been making for years during the summer since it’s light and refreshing, but it’s really delicious any time of the year.

Here’s the lowdown:

 

Recipe courtesy of: Epicurious.com

Serves: 8 side portions

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (small disk-shaped seeds)*
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed if canned
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked corn (cut from about 2 large ears)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped red, orange or yellow bell pepper
  • 2 pickled jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced (wear rubber gloves)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 avocado – diced
  • 2 green onions – sliced

For dressing

  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

 

IMG_0337

 

Directions:

In a saucepan of salted boiling water cook quinoa 10 minutes.

 

Quinoa salad with black beans, corn, and avocado: Boiling the quinoa.

 

Drain quinoa in sieve and rinse under cold water. Set sieve over a saucepan of boiling water (quinoa should not touch water) and steam quinoa, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, about 10 minutes (check water level in kettle occasionally, adding water if necessary). By the way, stay close to the stove while you do the steaming to make sure your towel over the gas flame stays out of trouble. I’ve made this salad without a problem so many times, but may or may not have singed the corner of it this time.

Go figure!

 

IMG_0348

Quinoa salad with black beans, corn, and avocado: Steaming the boiled quinoa to make it softer and fluffier. Don't set your towel on fire!

 

Before we move on, I want to try to show you the difference before and after the steaming process. It’s less visible than it is noticeable from a mouth-feel standpoint.

Here’s the quinoa after boiling only on the left, and after boiling and steaming on the right. The boiled/steamed seeds will soak in a lot more dressing since they’re softer. On the left, you can see the tiny hard core, sort of like al dente pasta. On the right, the hard core is gone, and the seeds have expanded.

End of seed cooking lesson.

Moving on.

 

Quinoa salad with black beans, corn, and avocado: Quinoa boiled vs. boiled and steamed

 

While quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

 

Quinoa salad with black beans, corn, and avocado: Stir the beans in with the vinegar and seasonings.

 

Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and cool. Add beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapeños, avocado, onions and coriander and toss well.

 

Quinoa salad with black beans, corn, and avocado: Mix it all up.

 

Make dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, salt, and cumin and add oil in a stream, whisking.

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste. Salad may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

 

Quinoa salad with black beans, corn, and avocado: YUM!

 

I could eat this lovely, nutritious salad once a week and never, ever tire of it.

Here’s the printable version. Enjoy!:

 

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Bell Peppers, and Avocado

Serves 10
Prep time 35 minutes
Website epicurious.com
A superbly healthy salad with quinoa, avocado, corn and jalapeño.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked black beans (rinsed if canned)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked corn (cut from about two large ears)
  • 3/4 cups red, orange or yellow bell peppers (finely chopped)
  • 1/3 cup pickled jalapeños (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (chopped (optional))
  • 1 avocado (diced)
  • 2 green onions (thinly sliced)
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Directions

Step 1
In a saucepan of salted boiling water cook quinoa 10 minutes.
Step 2
Drain quinoa in sieve and rinse under cold water. Set sieve over a saucepan of boiling water (quinoa should not touch water) and steam quinoa, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, about 10 minutes (check water level in kettle occasionally, adding water if necessary).
Step 3
While quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
Step 4
Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and cool. Add beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapeños, avocado, onions and coriander and toss well.
Step 5
In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, salt, and cumin and add oil in a stream, whisking.
Step 6
Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste. Salad may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

Written by Becky


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About Me:

Hi! My name is Becky. I’m a mom, a wife, a friend, a writer, and a compulsive thinker. Don't invite me to a spa or to shop the day away, but rather, make me laugh, engage me in interesting conversation, play a game with me, or give me a cappuccino and homemade vanilla bean flan and I’m yours ‘til the cows come home.

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