Saturday, July 23, 2011

Red Quinoa salad with corn and asparagus

Quinoa has become a very popular food among health food enthusiasts. It has been a staple food of the Inca civilization, and is a plant food that provides complete protein. It is related to beets and chard and is not a grain. Quinoa on its own does not have much flavor. Hence it is a blank canvas, on which you can paint your own mark. Vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, and a dressing is what you need to make it your own. It should be treated like you would treat a lentil.

Quinoa is available in multiple colors - white, black and red. I have used both white and red and they taste almost the same. The red is prettier. Today I have combined quinoa with asparagus and corn with a simple balsamic dressing to make a very nutritious dish. Before you start cooking quinoa, you need to wash it thoroughly to remove the bitter coating called saponin, which acts as a natural insect repellent. Since grains are tiny, you need to use a fine mesh strainer to wash the quinoa. Most quinoa sold today does not require much washing, but in case you end up with one that does, wash till the water runs clear.

Red Quinoa salad with corn and asparagus

1/3 cup red quinoa, washed
1/2 cup asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 fresh corn on the cob, kernels removed
1 cube of veggie stock - any brand that you like ( I use Rapunzel salt free stock cubes)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (use a good quality vinegar)
1 clove of garlic, pressed through a garlic press or mashed with a knife
1 1/2 tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil (I used unfiltered for salad dressings)

1. Cook the quinoa as per the instructions on the box. Typically you need 2 cups of liquid for 1 cup of quinoa. In this case, add the stock cube to the water or if you are using liquid stock, omit the stock cube. When the quinoa is cooked, let it cool and fluff with a fork.

2. Blanch the asparagus and corn for 2 minutes and shock in cold water. Drain and mix with the cooled quinoa.

3. Make a dressing with the garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil and mix into the quinoa. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 3.

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