Quinoa is a seed that cooks like a grain. It has become very popular the last few years and for good reason. Its full of protein, including essential amino acids, high in fiber and cooks super fast and easy. Its prepared just like rice but cooks in about 20 minutes compared to the 40 minutes it takes to simmer brown rice. Just make sure to buy the pre rinsed variety. The grains are very small and I personally find them hard to rinse, even using a fine mesh sieve I end up loosing some down the drain. Consequently, if they are not rinsed, they foam up during cooking.
Like most grains, quinoa soaks up flavors well so try cooking it in wine, stock, or just with water and a squeeze of lemon or orange juice. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is to first sauté it in a little oil with garlic and salt then simmer it in mostly water and just a touch of wine. Once it has fully absorbed the liquid, I stir in fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon and serve it sprinkled with toasted cashews. I also really like it with dried cranberries and pecans.
This was the first time I made a tabuli version with quinoa but the results were fantastic. I simmered the quinoa in mostly water and some white wine. Then I chopped up tomatoes, cucumbers, and a whole bunch of paresly and set that aside. When the quinoa had full absorbed the liquid I stirred in the parsley along with salt and a hefty amount of pepper then squeezed the juice of half an orange and 1 small lemon. When the quinoa had cooled to room temperature I folded in the tomatoes and cucumbers. The freshness of the parsley and the crunch of the fresh vegetables was delicious with the lemony quinoa.
Qunioa Tabuli Salad
1 cup quinoa
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup white wine (or water or stock)
salt and pepper
juice from 1 large lemon
a whole bunch of parsley
1/2 cucumber, peeled and cubed
1 tomato, chopped
Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in a medium sized saucepan. Add the garlic and quinoa and sauté until fragrant. Add the water and wine and bring to a boil. Stir once, cover the saucepan, and reduce heat to low to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork when done.
Let it cool to at least room temperature. Add the lemon and parsley and stir to combine. Fold in the cucumber and tomato and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold or room temperature.