Quinoa is a valuable super food for vegetarians and vegans who are concerned about getting enough protein in their diets. It is the only grain that contains all nine essential amino acids which means less need for food combining. It is also high in lysine, an amino acid necessary for tissue growth and repair. Quinoa has a nutty flavor and is similar to rice in its texture and in the way it cooks. It is lumped in the grain category but it is actually the seed of a leafy plant, related to spinach and swiss chard. You can see what the quinoa plant and harvest looks like here. It comes in both the white version pictured below and red, and lately I have also been seeing a black version.
This salad can be enjoyed as a main course or a side dish. It keeps in the refrigerator for a week, but I would leave out the avocado if you plan to store it that long. The avocado will get brown and you could instead just add a little when you are ready to eat this dish.
1 ½ cups quinoa
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and diced, about 1 cup to 1/2 cups
2 large tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup green onions, sliced thinly
¼ cup parsley, minced
¼ cup fresh mint, minced
¼ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
fresh cracked pepper, about 6 turns
1 can garbanzo beans
1 ripe avocado, diced
- Place quinoa in a mesh strainer and rinse under cold water for a few seconds.
- Cook quinoa according to package directions, or see below**
- Place all of the ingredients, except the avocado, in a large bowl and stir to mix. Taste for seasoning and add more lime, salt or pepper to taste.
- Add avocado and stir to mix again. Serve at room temperature or cold.
Quinoa is really easy to cook, boiling just like pasta, instead of using the rice method where you put exactly the amount of water you need and then cover to cook. Use whichever method you are comfortable with.
If you havent tried the “pasta” method, fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Add rinsed quinoa to the pot and bring back to a boil, then lower the heat until you have a nice rolling boil or simmer, dont let it boil over the sides of the pot. Let quinoa gently boil for about 6 minutes. To check when it is done, the tails will start to separate from the core of the seed and it will no longer be crunchy. You can take a taste to check that you like the texture. You dont want to overcook the quinoa, the salad will be better if the quinoa is done just al dente.