I am on a quinoa kick; it is my favorite refrigerator backup snack to have on hand. (You know the healthy alternative that is ready at hand when you get a hunger pain or need to munch.) The quinoa kick started with a Trader Joes frozen quinoa that I make (actually reheat) for my daughter’s school lunch. She takes it in a thermos and adds soy sauce. (She is not a sandwich kind of girl, hates the idea of a sandwich aging in her lunch bag for half a day.) Anyway, when I make the quinoa for her lunch there is some leftover, I have the leftovers for my lunch. Quinoa is a “health food” and well, after eating it, I do feel “healthy” not stuffed feeling, but satisfied.
So I went on a Google search for quinoa recipes. Not a lot out there and even fewer recipes in my cookbook collection. The first recipe I tried was a Mexican inspired version with black beans, tomatoes and cilantro. Somehow the nutty flavor of the quinoa paired with Mexican flavors did not taste right for me. Then I tried this salad with fresh mango, curry and cucumbers. This combination tasted great and worked well with the quinoa. The flavors were in harmony and only improved as my next day leftovers (refrigerator backup healthy snack).
I think my affection for quinoa is because it is a comforting like a carb, but light like a salad. Even though there are not a lot of recipes per se out there, coming up with a quinoa salad is really a matter of your tastes, cravings or menu. Cooked quinoa mixed with herbs, nuts, fruit or veggies of your choice and a simple vinaigrette and presto you have a quinoa salad ready for immediate enjoyment or mingling in your fridge for future hunger attacks.
Quinoa Salad with Mango, Curry and Cucumbers
(adapted from Bon Appetit August 2005)
1 cup quinoa (well rinsed and drained)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mango chutney
1 ½ teaspoon curry powder (I used mild)
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
2 mangos, peeled and cut into small cube size pieces
1 cup Persian cucumbers cut into small cube size pieces
3-4 green onions or chives, chopped
½ cup cilantro, basil or basil, chopped finely
1. Cook quinoa in a medium pot of 2 quarts salted boiling water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered for 10 minutes. Drain into a sieve. Set the sieve in the same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch quinoa), cover the quinoa with a folded kitchen towel and cover pot with lid( Lid does not need to fit tightly). Steam over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove lid, let quinoa stand for 5 minutes covered with towel.
2. While the quinoa cooks, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mango chutney, curry powder and dry mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. In a large bowl mix together the quinoa with mango, cucumber, green onions and herbs. Drizzle olive oil mixture over quinoa to taste and gently mix to coat.
Serve with grilled mixed sausages or Moroccan grilled chicken and your favorite Sauvignon Blanc.
For more ideas with quinoa check out Little Quinoa Patties from Heidi Swanson’s new cookbook “Super Natural Every Day.”