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What Are the Best Ideas for Quinoa Salads?

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  • Written By: Cynde Gregory
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2016
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Anyone who has ever cooked quinoa, a tiny, protein-packed seed, has discovered it’s both versatile and uniquely flavored. Quinoa, with its very high amino acids, is a complete protein, which is rare among grains as most must be combined with nuts or dairy products to become complete. Quinoa salads can be created using fruits and veggies that are on hand, as well as meat, fish, or tofu for added protein. Some home cooks like to create quinoa salads with cooked beans, lentils, or nuts too.

Before the home cook compiles a quinoa salad, it’s important to know how to properly cook the nutty little guys. They are naturally coated with saponin, which tastes a bit like soap to convince birds to snack elsewhere as they are growing. The saponin must be rinsed before cooking both to remove the bitter taste and because soponin has laxative-like characteristics that no diner wants to deal with. After rinsing and drying, the best quinoa flavor comes from dry roasting the seeds until they pop and then adding water or stock to cook.

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After the cooked quinoa has cooled, a very simple salad can be constructed with diced cucumber, green pepper, and halved grape tomatoes. Feta or bleu cheese and kalamata olives will dress the salad as a Mediterranean treat. An American version might substitute corn, green beans, and basil. In either case, a squirt of lemon, a generous splash of high-quality olive oil, two shakes of sea salt and fresh-ground pepper, and a little finely minced garlic will create a salad that sings with layers of flavor.

Quinoa seeds might be little, but they’re sturdy. Hearty quinoa salads might feature diced roasted chicken, salmon, or beef. For a South-of-the-border flavor, home cooks can add chopped cilantro and a dash or two of hot sauce to the mix and serve it with slices of avocado on the side.

An Asian-inspired salad can be created with a dressing of lime, mashed ginger, minced and sautéed garlic, and a shake or two of five-spice powder or soy sauce. Sliced water chestnuts and bamboo make a nice addition, as do mung or sunflower bean sprouts. This salad is especially good with diced tofu that has been marinated in lime or lemon juice, soy sauce, and sesame oil and, if the cook has time, baked.

Any number of seasonal quinoa salads are easy to construct. Chopped winter squash, a sprinkling of walnuts, and some shredded cheese makes a winter belly warmer. A summer quinoa salad that combines mango, orange slices, and lightly browned pine nuts with a light olive oil and fruity vinegar dressing will bring cool refreshment. Quinoa, chopped apples, and golden raisins drizzled with good-quality apple cider vinegar and oil are both easy to put together and a memorable dish.

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anon353854
Post 3

I posted a comment a while back (refer to post 1) regarding quinoa versatility here in Ecuador, and I must say, I am more than in love with it. Now, I have learned to prepare it not only in veggie salads, but delicious fruit and yogurt breakfast with quinoa added in, rather than the traditional oats that are used. Also, a delicious fruit salad with sliced bananas, diced apples and halved grapes with quinoa, wheat germ and honey (sometimes I throw chia seeds in too) mixed for a tasty and nutritious snack or dessert.

But the main reason I am writing is to share what I've been doing on the frying pan lately. I throw sauteed minced onions, green peppers

, celery, garlic, shredded carrot and diced tomatoes until nice and tender, then I mix the cooked quinoa and season with curry, cumin and olive oil, a bit of natural yogurt and salt and pepper. Sautee until browned. This is the tastiest dish I've had in such a long time. Serve with a bit of curry rice and you're set to go. For variety, mix quinoa and veggies with ground beef/chicken/tuna and it is much more protein packed.

Quinoa has become my staple, and it is so cheap and easy to make. Hope you enjoy what I've shared, going to go look for more quinoa recipes!

cgregory
Post 2

I'm delighted you liked the article. Check out my articles on couscous salads, too-you can use quinoa instead of the couscous and you'll have a really delicious salad that is very high protein. I think I've also written an article of quinoa porridge. Try searching WiseGEEK for that one as well! Cynde

anon191290
Post 1

I had a bag of quinoa sitting in my shelf for almost a year, and as I have recently begun my mission to get in shape once and for all, I thought that adding quinoa to my diet would be more than a good idea. I cooked some up and had some with hot sauce. Wow.

As I am living in Ecuador, it is almost always prepared in a soup -- no salads! Then I was stumped for ideas and your article is an excellent reference for a variety of different textures and flavors! Thank you so much! Cheers from Ecuador.

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