Friday, August 26, 2011

Nourishing Quinoa Salad

As August is coming to an end, I cannot alleviate my desire to hang on to Summer just a bit longer. Grain Salads are a favorite at my table during the warmer seasons. So I bring you a refreshing addition to enjoy at Lunch or Dinner. This Quinoa Salad travels well to Work, School or Play and it is Gluten-Free. Consider this for your last Picnic of the Season this Labor Day Weekend!  

Quinoa Salad
Raw Quinoa
1 Cup of Quinoa
4 3/4 Cups Spring Water
1 pinch of Sea Salt
2 Tbl Red Onion Diced
1 Red Onion Sliced into Fine Rounds
1 Tbl Fresh Basil, Mint,Thyme, Parsley or Cilantro
1 Cup Cucumber Small Dice
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes Halved (optional)
I Tbl Lemon or Orange Zest
3 Tbl Olive Oil
3Tbl Umeboshi Vinegar
4 Cups of Baby Greens
Cooked and Fluffed Quinoa
Soak Quinoa in 3 Cups of Spring Water for 20 minutes this will release the *saponin coating on the Quinoa
After 20 minutes, massage Quinoa in the soaking water and rinse several times and drain
If you choose to you can soak the Quinoa the remaining 1 3/4 Cups of Spring Water *see below 

Bring to a boil add your pinch of Sea Salt, Cover and simmer on very low flame for approximately 20 minutes
Turn off, fluff and leave covered for 5 more minutes
Remove Quinoa from the pot and place on a baking sheet to cool

Marinate the Onion Rounds in a bowl with 2 Tbl of Ume Vinegar for 20 minutes
Rinse onions and place on an impeccably clean Tea Towel to drain
The additional Tbl of Ume Vinegar will be reserved for the salad dressing

Once the Quinoa has reached room temperature, place in a Large Bowl and add:
Diced Onion, Herbs, Cherry Tomatoes, Lemon or Orange Zest,Olive Oil and Ume Vinegar
TOSS GENTLY and let sit for 15 Minutes in Fridge 

Choose a pretty shaped Cup or Glass, fill with Quinoa Salad and gently pat down to secure shape for unmolding
Unmold onto a Bed of Baby Greens
Garnish with a pile of marinated Red Onions

Quinoa (“KEEN-wah”) grains or seeds have a saponin coating in nature. This coating is a natural defense for the plant from birds eating the seeds. The saponin creates a bitter taste that the birds hate, and most people do as well. Further, the soapiness of saponin acts as a laxative when eaten. So an important step to preparing Quinoa is removing the saponin coating by washing or rinsing.

Another step in preparing Quinoa considered important by many is soaking before cooking Quinoa. This step that is easily overlooked is important in two ways. First, it softens the grains aiding in digestion, enough so that many people just wash and soak, then use uncooked Quinoa on salads or snacks.
The second reason for soaking is a little harder to see. Quinoa will actually germinate in two to four hours, when the seed opens from germinating, the amino acids or proteins are unlocked, causing Quinoa nutrition to multiply. Just how much of a boost can vary from lot to lot and year by year. But it is a good boost to the proteins for such a simple step.
A not so important benefit to soaking is apparent to some people with sensitive pallets. The soaking unlocks some of the flavor of Quinoa as well.
Studies show that people who eat at least three servings of whole grains a day have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They also seem to maintain a healthy weight more easily. If you would like to try a different grain from Wheat, Barley, Oats, and Brown Rice, consider protein rich quinoa. This grain is so mild-flavored and versatile, you'll find it very easy to incorporate Quinoa into many of your recipes. 


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