I really enjoy quinoa—it has a mild, nutty flavor, cooks as quickly as rice, and is high in protein, iron and other nutrients, making it a “superfood”. My favorite way to make quinoa is to prepare a salad. You can be quite creative with these salads—quinoa seems to go well with every vegetable. I like to add some sort of dried fruit to the salad as well. I had some leftover edamame last night and decided to use the beans in a quinoa salad—a double superfood salad! I made a mustard-accented dressing inspired by a recipe for a quinoa salad that I found on Epicurious.
Quinoa and Edamame salad
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
½ red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup shelled, cooked edamame
¼ cup chopped red onion
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
3 Tablepoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
To cook the quinoa: Pour the grains into a mesh sieve and rinse under running water in the sink. I put the sieve in a bowl so that the grains soak as the bowl fills with water. You will see that some of the grains will float—this is due to the saponin coating on the outside of the grain. To remove any bitter-tasting saponins, rinse the quinoa well with a second wash after gently stirring the grains around in the bowl of water.
In a medium sized saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil add a pinch of salt, and stir in the quinoa. Once it has returned to a simmer, lower the heat and put the lid on the pan. It will take about 15 minutes to cook. When the quinoa is ready, you will be able to see the spiral of the germ in the grains. To cool the quinoa, I usually put it back into a sieve set over a bowl. Another method is to spread it out on a cookie sheet to cool.
While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the vegetables and mix up the vinaigrette. Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet just until they begin to change color and set aside.
When the quinoa has cooled somewhat, add enough dressing to moisten it and combine thoroughly. Taste as you add the dressing—I did not use all of it for my salad. Then add the vegetables, dried fruit and basil and combine. Add the pine nuts last. We enjoyed this served while still slightly warm. If you are preparing the salad ahead of time, refrigerate it but don’t add the pine nuts until just before serving, so that they remain crunchy.