One of my family's favorite lighter meals is this Quinoa Salad with Cumin-Lime Dressing. I serve it with grilled fish or chicken. It's a breeze to put together.
It's a breeze to put together. You cook up some quinoa, which takes about fifteen minutes, and then tuck it in the fridge to chill. While it grows cold, you chop up all sorts of vibrant additions like avocado, tomato, red onion and jalapeno before tossing it all together with lime juice and olive oil.
The Goodness in Quinoa
Quinoa is the seed of a plant that originated in the Andean mountains of South America, where it was cultivated by indigenous peoples for five to seven thousand years.
Andean peoples held a sacred place in their culinary traditions for quinoa where it was used liberally, and, was particularly treasured by nursing mothers as it was thought to support an adequate and abundant milk supply (source).
Quinoa is rich in minerals like manganese, magnesium and phosphorus as well as antioxidants like quercetin. It is likewise rich in protein, and is a good source of folate, a nutrient critical to women of reproductive age for its ability to mitigate the risk of neural tube defects.
Quinoa's not really a grain.
While we use quinoa like a grain, and often refer to it as a grain. Quinoa is not truly a grain at all; rather, it's a pseudoceral - or a seed that we use like a cereal grain. Quinoa is the seed of a leafy plant in the Amaranth family.
Cooking with Quinoa
Quinoa can be bitter, owing to the presence of saponins that coat the exterior of the seeds. By rinsing quinoa thoroughly before cooking, you can reduce its natural bitterness. Your best bet, however, is simply to purchase from quinoa from a company that has already rinsed (or sprouted!) the quinoa in advance (this is the one I buy).