This salad is a must have for any picnic or potluck. It also makes a nice light dinner. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is an ancient food that is not yet well known in North America. It has been cultivated in South American Andes since at least 3,000 B.C. and has been a staple food of millions of native inhabitants. The ancient Incas called quinoa the "mother grain" and revered it as sacred. Each year at planting time it was traditional for the Inca leader to plant the first quinoa seed using a solid gold shovel! Quinoa was used to sustain Incan armies, which frequently marched for many days eating a mixture of quinoa and fat, known as "war balls." Beginning with the Spanish conquest in the 1500s, there was a 400-year decline in the production of quinoa. It became a minor crop at that time and was grown only by peasants in remote areas for local consumption.
Quinoa grains range in color from ivory to pinks, brown to reds, or almost black depending on the variety. There are over 120 species of Chenopodium, but only three main varieties are cultivated; one producing very pale seeds, called the white or sweet variety; a dark red fruited variety called red quinoa; and a black quinoa. The seeds are similar in size to millet but are flat with a pointed oval shape and look like a cross between a sesame seed and millet. Quinoa has a delightful characteristic that is all it's own: as it cooks, the outer germ around each grain twists outward forming a little white, spiral tail, which is attached to the kernel. The grain itself is soft and delicate and the tail is crunchy which creates and interesting texture combination and pleasant "crunch" when eating the grain. Quinoa has a fluffy consistency and a mild, delicate, slightly nutty flavor.
Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cups raw whole grain Quinoa
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup lightly steamed broccoli florets
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- dash salt and pepper, to taste (sea salt tastes best)
- 1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
- 1/2 cup roasted Walnuts
- Basil,Cilantro,Parsley leaves
Preparation:Cook quinoa in vegetable broth or water until it fluffs up, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. While quinoa is cooking, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic cloves and salt and pepper.
When quinoa is finished cooking, allow to cool slightly then, toss with vegetables and lemon juice mix, stirring to combine well. Add more salt and pepper to taste, and toss in the dried cranberries,roasted walnuts and herb leaves then chill before serving.
Makes 6 servings of quinoa salad.