Quinoa may be au courant but I predict this is no fleeting trend. It is here to stay, an ingredient that will remain a staple in American kitchens.
First because it is so nutritious — a complete protein, so you can cut down on or cut out meat-eating. In poor countries in South America, where this grain comes from, pregnant mothers who can’t afford meat are encouraged to eat quinoa.
Second, because it is widely available, relatively cheap and easy to cook: you boil some water or stock, add the grain, cover the pan and let it simmer for about 15 minutes and you’re done.
It’s also versatile. You can make it into salad, casseroles, stuffings and so on.
It tastes good too. A must for food!
And, as if all this wasn’t enough, you can use quinoa during Passover. Even though it is a grain.
It is not one of the prohibited grains.
That’s big for all who want to have a little something “starchy” with dinner during Passover and don’t want potatoes every day and don’t like the taste or consistency of Passover pasta products or who like variety in their diet.
Yesterday I gave a cooking demo for the UJA Federation of Greenwich Women’s Philanthropy and JCC Greenwich and prepared two Passover dishes, including Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Zucchini and Tomatoes. It was a big hit, no leftovers and everyone was amazed that the whole recipe took 17 minutes and it would have been shorter but we had to wait for the grains to cook.
This recipe is wonderfully fresh and Passover friendly. But you can enjoy it any time. Here it is:
Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Tomatoes and Zucchini
1 cup quinoa
1 cup cut up asparagus (1-inch pieces)
1 cup bite-size pieces of zucchini
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse for a few seconds under cold water. Drain. Bring 1-1/2 cups water to boil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the quinoa, lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the grains have absorbed the liquid. Spoon the quinoa into a bowl. Bring some more water to a boil in the pan. Add the asparagus and cook for 15 seconds. Add the zucchini and cook for another 15 seconds. Strain the vegetables, rinse under cold water and add to the quinoa. Add the tomatoes, scallions, dill and mint and toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the olive oil and vinegar, toss and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings