Monday, October 10, 2011

Quinoa Salad with Cucumber and Purple Onion

The other day, I went to what is being billed as the largest book sale in the world. I kid you not, IN THE WORLD.  I don't know how such things are judged but I can tell you it was doggone BIG.  The hall was at least three football fields large and the tables were filled with stacks and stacks of books.  And I must confess that I peeked under the tables (looking for an empty box to carry my haul in) and found FULL boxes instead.  So I had to go back two days later and see what had been put out. And, of course, I bought more books.

Part of my haul:

This recipe came from one of the first day's books, The Conscious Cook.  I had been wanting to try quinoa and the book serendipitously opened to just the right page.  Really, this was not like the Ouija board in college.

Quinoa is an ancient grain from South America but, for those of you keeping track, despite my childhood time spent in Peru, I had never heard of it until a couple of years back.  Seemingly it is notoriously hard to grow outside of the Andes and The Conscious Cook has an interview with a man named Don McKinley, who finally succeeded in the US.  My particular box was bought in Carrefour and came from Bolivia.

3/4 cup or 125g quinoa
2 tablespoons purple onion (half a little bitty onion)
About 2-2 1/2inches of an English or Japanese cucumber (the long skinny ones without many seeds)
5-6 basil leaves
1 endive or chicory, separated into leaves
Sea salt
2 oranges
1 tablespoon white wine or cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salad greens (I used rocket or arugula.)

Cook your quinoa according to package instructions, substituting vegetable broth for the water.  For those of you with a small bag of bulk quinoa, without instructions, (you know who you are!) my recipe called for two times the amount of quinoa in water so I used 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock. The instructions further said to put the quinoa in cold water, bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 12 minutes.

This is me adding the vegetable stock powder.  
Once the quinoa is cooked, allow it to cool to room temperature.  Impatient as I was, I spread mine out on a plate, and popped it in the refrigerator.  It was cool in no time.

Chop up your purple onion and your cucumber. 

Stack the basil leaves and roll them up and slice them finely. (Fancy chefs called this chiffonade.)

Juice one lemon and add to the onion, cucumber and basil. 

When the quinoa is cool, mix it in too.   Add salt as needed.

The next step is making a nice vinaigrette for the greens.  Peel your oranges and cut them in sections.

If you have any pulp left in the peels, squeeze the juice out and save it. Squeeze a few of your sections until you have about two tablespoons of orange juice in your bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar. 

Now drizzle the olive oil slowly into the juice and vinegar bowl, whisking quickly, until it emulsifies, which just means the oil is incorporated into the juice.  Add salt and black pepper to taste.

When you are ready to serve, drizzle your salad greens with the vinaigrette and toss lightly till coated.

Top with endive leaves and fill them with the quinoa mixture. Strew the orange sections around.  Beautiful and delicious.


This lovely recipe came, with a few adaptions, from The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen. 

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