Great Grains: Quinoa & Summer Veggie Fun

How have I not written this post yet?!  We use a lot of quinoa around here. Why? Well, there’s lots of reasons, but  I favor quinoa because it tastes great, has a much higher nutritional impact (more protein plus fiber, vitamins and minerals) than rice, is gluten free, AND is really versatile.

My most recent quinoa creation had everything to do with the weather. My favorite time of year has finally arrived. Fall is in the air and in the night chill, but hasn’t fully asserted itself yet. Cool nights, warm days, long walks and garden madness. Yay! Now that the critters have been deterred and I am allowed to eat some of my garden produce, I have the delight of finding ways to use that abundance that really allow their natural yum to stand out. For me, that often means using those veggies raw. I like the crispness, the clear unmuddled flavor of raw veggies. I also, admittedly, like not having to work all that hard to prepare them. ;-)

We had a little hot spell here and during those days I tried to do my cooking in the off hours – which meant some make ahead cold dinners that kept us and the house cool in the steamy late hours of the afternoon. For our first hot & steamy cold dinner, Mr. Little Sis asked for a reprise on a recipe I used to make long ago – a rice salad with fresh veggies. To be honest, I only vaguely recalled what he was talking about, but I know the man’s palate, so I knew what he was looking for. A quick switch of quinoa for rice, and I was in business.

Cool Summer Veggie Quinoa

  • IMG_99563 cups cooked quinoa (or whatever amount will work for you)
  • 2 cucumbers, rough cut
  • 2 cups rough cut tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oregano
  • fresh chopped parsley (opt)

Quinoa must be rinsed before cooking to taste at all palatable. The quinoa seeds are coated in saponins, vegetable substances, that make quinoa taste bitter.  Built in protection from critters while growing, but not very useful after harvest.  I soak mine in a bowl or pot and then drain through a fine strainer like these.  After rinsing, add quinoa to boiling water (2 cups water for every one cup quinoa) and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  When quinoa is done cooking, chill in the refrigerator so as not to cook those tremendous raw veggies in the bowl.  When mealtime is 5 minutes away, add cut veggies to chilled quinoa. Sprinkle in 2 T olive oil (more if you like) and 4 t white wine vinegar.  Season with salt, pepper, and 1 t oregano.  Stir.  Done.  We ate ours on a bed of mixed greens with a few olives on top. Delish, simple Mediterranean yum.

IMG_9938 IMG_9932 IMG_9941

More Quinoa Fun

Breakfast: Quinoaty or Quingroaty Porridge

Lunch: Power Tabbouleh

Dinner: Fancy Pants Quinoa Polenta

Dessert? I confess I’ve not yet made dessert with quinoa, although I can imagine the equivalent of rice pudding.  I’m also told one can bake with quinoa flour.  Maybe you have some great quinoa ideas for dessert?

Until next time, may all your meals be healthful and may all your grains be great!

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12 responses

  1. I had no idea I had to rinse my quinoa. we’ve been eating it for months but I usually mix it with other tomato-based stuff so I don’t know if it has a funny taste. it is organic…would it still have the saponin stuff on it? how long do you soak it before draining?

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