Thursday, August 7, 2014

Quinoa Salad with Red and Yellow Peppers, Spinach, and Cilantro

Quinoa Vegetable Salad

Ever since I had the Belly Buster at Sparky Town in Syracuse with my niece last winter, I have been looking for a recipe which I could make at home.  It was a quinoa vegetable sandwich wrap.  Surprisingly good ---and healthy, too!

I found a recipe in Best Ever Cooking for Two which I thought might work.  I beefed it up with extra peppers, onion, and spinach.

We loved it  -- we had seconds --- but it didn't have the texture I was looking for.  Too mushy.

Nonetheless, the flavors are excellent, so I am posting it.

I served it as a hot salad along with grilled lamb chops. Then I made a molded cold salad by storing it in the smallest of the Glad containers, and turning it upside down on the plate to serve.

I might try orzo next.  Or maybe I am using the wrong version of quinoa?

Quinoa Salad with Peppers, Spinach and Cilantro
(adapted Best-Ever Cooking for Two)

2/3 quinoa, rinsed and dried
1 cup water
salt and pepper
1/2 large onion,  chopped
1 -2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
2  peppers (1 red and 1 yellow), chopped
1 tub (3-4 cups) of fresh spinach, washed and dried
fresh cilantro, rinsed, dried and chopped
2-3 ounces of paneer Indian cheese (optional)
1.5 t. minced jalapeno or dried red pepper flakes
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lemon or lime
1 t. Dijon mustard -- I used creole
1/4 t. cumin

Here's what I did:

Washed the quinoa in a finely gauged sieve, then spread it out on a clean towel to let it dry.

In a pot or skillet with a cover, I sauteed the onions, added the peppers, and then for the last few minutes, added the finely chopped garlic, so it would be softened but not browned.

I turned the pepper and onion mixture into the serving bowl.  And then, to the same skillet, added the dried quinoa and toasted it --- it will begin to turn brown and become aromatic, smelling a little like popcorn, or breakfast cereal.

Then I added the cup of water, covered it with a lid,  and cooked it for 10 minutes, then checked on it, and cooked it for two more minutes until all of the liquid was absorbed.

Meanwhile, I made the delicious dressing of oil, lemon or lime juice, mustard, and cumin, and red pepper flakes.  Separately, I chopped lots of fresh cilantro.  And made small cubes of the paneer cheese.

When the quinoa was done, I added the fresh spinach to the pot, kept the heat on low, and covered it to let the spinach sweat and willt.  I added the pepper and onion mixture to the top of the spinach, and stirred it all together, until the spinach had wilted but was still bright green.

Then, removed it from the heat and stirred in the cilantro and cubed cheese. Then added about half the dressing, and mixed it together, and decided to add the rest.

The dressing is the best part!


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