Quinoa has become the hot new Passover dish. Most authorities agree that it’s okay to eat it during the 8-day Passover holiday.
Quinoa is okay because even though it looks like a grain, cooks like grain and has the taste and texture of a grain — it ISN’T a grain. It doesn’t rise. It doesn’t grow near grains that are forbidden during Passover.
Wow, this opens up whole categories of recipes that my grandma never even contemplated! Or my mother. This is new. There are no “traditional Ashkenazi” or “traditional Sephardic” recipes for Passover quinoa dishes.
You just have to make stuff up, which is fine when it comes to food.
I have made up lots of quinoa recipes because we like grain-like side dishes and we also like vegetarian dinners on occasion — quinoa is filling enough to use for a main course (it also is loaded with protein).
Cooked quinoa is the perfect salad base: add vegetables of all sorts, add cheese if you like, or nuts, dried fruit, and so on. Use a good, homemade vinaigrette. By mixing it up you’ll end up with dozens and dozens of side dishes or main course salads.
Here’s one of the dishes I plan to serve during Passover and all-summer long, in one variation or another.
Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Tomatoes and Zucchini
1 cup quinoa
1 cup cut up asparagus (1-inch pieces)
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup cut up cherry tomatoes
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse under cold water for about one minute. Let drain. Bring 1-1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan, add the quinoa, stir, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are tender. (If you prefer crunchier quinoa, cook for less time and drain any excess liquid.) Spoon the quinoa into a bowl. Bring more water to a boil in the saucepan. Add the asparagus and cook for 15 seconds. Add the zucchini and cook for another 15 seconds. Drain the vegetables and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Add the asparagus and zucchini to the quinoa. Add the tomatoes, scallions, dill and mint and toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the olive oil and wine vinegar. Toss and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4-6 servings