I know it’s hip to love quinoa, but I can’t help it. I love quinoa. I would eat it even if it was considered junk food. That toasty, nutty flavor – not to mention the texture – adds character to any dish, and is worth integrating into any diet, no matter what. Luckily, it’s been lauded as a “superfood.” Basically, that means it’s really good for you.
More specifically, it has twice as much protein as cereal grains, less carbohydrates, and just the right amount of healthy fats. It’s also a complete protein similar to meat and eggs because it has all the necessary amino acids to help build muscle. People often get confused and call quinoa a grain. It’s not. It’s really a seed. But it doesn’t really matter what you call it. It still tastes good.
One of my favorite ways to prepare it is as a quinoa salad mixed with whatever vegetables I have around at the moment. I find quinoa incredibly filling, so this could easily be a full meal (I often do this for lunch) but for dinner I like to pair it with grilled chicken or some other protein. The maple syrup adds only a subtle flavor and works nicely with the quinoa. Chopped kumquats were a special addition this time because, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve got lots. If kumquats aren’t available toss in some lemon zest instead for a similar effect. My favorite is red quinoa, but any variety will work here.
Zesty Quinoa Salad
Yield: 4 to 6 side servings
1 cup quinoa
1½ cups water
½ sweet potato, diced and parboiled
½ red pepper, diced
3 kumquats finely chopped, plus a few slices for garnish
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon good quality maple syrup
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus a little for garnish
Soak the quinoa in hot water for 5 minutes. Strain and rinse. Put in a pot with the 1½ cups water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and cook until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl. Add the sweet potato, red pepper, kumquats, olive oil, and maple syrup and mix to combine. Add the cilantro and lightly toss. Serve hot, at room temp, or cold. Garnish with chopped cilantro and sliced kumquat