If you haven’t yet tried cooking with quinoa, you should – it’s wonderful stuff, versatile, easy to cook and so good for you. High in protein, quinoa contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It’s mild flavoured and light – an edible seed, actually – the plant is related to kale, and not technically a grain at all.
The thing to remember about quinoa is that it must be rinsed first to get rid of the naturally occurring bitter saponins coating each seed. I like to fluff mine up by putting freshly cooked quinoa back into the pot and covering it as it cools. Most often when I cook quinoa I cool it down to put into a salad. Quinoa makes a fab salad, especially with black beans or chickpeas, and any number of fresh veg. I like mango, and cumin in the dressing. This salad travels well (great for barbecues, potlucks and lunch at work) and could not be healthier. Or more delicious!
Curried Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango
1 cup quinoa
1-2 ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 red or yellow pepper, chopped
1/4 English cucumber, chopped
2-3 green onions or a chunk of purple onion, chopped
2 cups (packed) baby spinach, torn or sliced (optional)
half a 19 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
handful of torn cilantro (optional)
1/4 cup canola oil
2-4 Tbsp. white wine or white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. curry powder or mild paste
1/4 tsp. cumin
Rinse quinoa well under cool water in a fine sieve, then cook in a pot of boiling salted water over medium heat until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. (Just like you’d cook pasta.) Drain well, return to the pot, put the lid back on and let it steam – this will produce fluffy quinoa – until cooled.
Combine the oil, vinegar, honey, curry and cumin in a jar or small bowl and shake or whisk to blend. If you like, season the dressing with salt and pepper.
Put the quinoa, mango, vegetables and beans in a large bowl, drizzle with dressing and toss until well coated. Serves 4-6.