Quinoa is a remarkable grain – rich in magnesium, phosphorus and manganese as well as the amino acid lysine which offers antiviral properties. Quinoa is not truly a cereal grain in the same manner as wheat or rye; rather, it’s a pseudocereal and, as such, is gluten-free and well-tolerated by those who choose to consume it. This quinoa salad combines pine nuts, feta cheese, parsley and radicchio and is best served with a very light olive oil vinaigrette.
This quinoa salad is fresh, and savory but also dense in nutrients. Pine nuts offer an excellent source of vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin and niacin as well as magnesium, phosphorus and mangnese. Radicchio, a member of the chicory family, is a remarkably good source of inulin – a prebiotic that helps to nourish and feed the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract (learn more about prebiotics and probiotics).
Feta cheese, like that included in this recipe, is traditionally prepared from ewe’s milk; however, most feta cheese currently available in super markets is not made from ewe’s milk, but prepared from cow’s milk instead. If you’re fortunate to have access to a good cheese shop, do your best to purchase a traditional ewe’s milk feta though goat milk or cow milk feta will do. Ewe’s milk and goat’s milk are richer in tryptophan, an amino acid known for its calming properties, than cow’s milk.
Grains, nuts and seeds, contain antinutrients which inhibit the activity of digestive enzymes and which can bind minerals preventing their full absorption. To maximize the nutritive value of the quinoa, with all its vital minerals, take care to soak the quinoa in a warm and slightly acidic solution prior to cooking. You may also sprout the quinoa, which offers a nice alternative and also increases the vitamins present in the grain (learn more about sprouted grain). Quinoa also contains saponins which lend a very unpleasantly bitter, soapy flavor to the dish if the quinoa is not properly prepared. To mitigate the negative impact of saponins on the flavor of the final dish, thoroughly rinse the quinoa in fresh water prior to soaking it. When cooked through, quinoa is pleasantly sticky and the cooked germ will curl around each grain making for a delightful appearance. I prepare my quinoa by first rinsing, then soaking for a few hours and boiling in broth until cooked through.
- 2 cups cooked quinoa, (chilled)
- 1 small head radicchio, (chopped)
- 1 cup cooked chicken, (cut in bite-sized pieces)
- ½ cup cubed feta cheese
- 1 small red onion, (chopped fine)
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Olive oil and vinegar dressing, (to serve)
- Toss cooked quinoa, chopped radicchio, cooked chicken, cubed feta cheese, chopped red onion, pine nuts and parsley together until all ingredients are well distributed.
- Dress the salad with olive oil and red wine vinegar