Warm quinoa salad
My sister was diagnosed with celiac disease about 7 years ago. When we learned she couldn’t eat gluten, my family was plunged into the world of gluten-free cake mixes, bean flours, and rice crackers. Many of these things were not particularly delicious, frankly. But my sister’s diagnosis did introduce our family to one thing that has become a staple of my diet: quinoa.
I realize quinoa is all trendy and stuff now, but I was ahead of the curve, man. I’ve been eating this stuff for YEARS. I’m with it! I’m hip!
Quinoa is a nutritious food- it’s higher in protein than rice, and it contains a balanced set of amino acids, which makes it a complete protein source. It also cooks in 15 minutes, as opposed to more like 40 for brown rice, which makes it great for weeknight meals.
This is one of my favorite recipes for quinoa- it’s a major hack on a recipe from an old issue of Gourmet on peruvian cooking. It breaks my loose “one pan” rule, but it comes together super quickly and easily. The ingredient list seems random and strange, but try it: it’s amazingly delicious. It’s even better the next day for lunch, and it’s great to bring to a picnic- you can rest assured it’ll stand out from the sea of potato and pasta salads.
South American Warm Quinoa Salad
2 and 1/3 cups dry quinoa
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 medium red onion, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
Assorted vegetables for roasting (I usually use 2 carrots, 1 red pepper, 2 zucchini, and a white onion- some people like eggplant but it makes my mouth itch.)
roughly 1/4 cup olive oil
8 oz black olives, chipped
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 and 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 – 2 tsps smoked paprika
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roughly chop vegetables and toss to coat with olive oil and salt. Roast 20-25 minutes until soft and browned in spots.
2. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions.
3. In a heavy skillet, heat 1T oil. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add onion and chiles and cook until soft (3-5 minutes). Add cumin and cook 1 minute. Stir the chiles and onions into the cooked quinoa.
4. Roughly chop roasted vegetables and stir into the cooked quinoa. Stir in olives, cilantro, cheese, vinegar, paprika and 1 Tbsp oil. Season with salt and serve warm.
Tips and notes:
- Smoked paprika is the key to the flavor of this dish. It’s sold at some supermarkets. I get mine from the Spice House, which also has a mail order business. If you’re not sure how you feel about smoked paprika, start with the lesser amount (1 tsp) and add a little more if you want to boost the flavor.
- Make sure the quinoa has cooled down a little before you stir in the cheese or it will turn into a huge gloppy mass