Thursday, August 4, 2011

A delicious cranberry walnut quinoa salad 

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


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.


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