Quinoa Chickpea Salad – A Cooling Delight for a Hot Day!

Quinoa a super seed? But I thought it was a grain! I use it just like rice, barley…

While technically a seed, quinoa is identified synonymously with whole grains because it is used just like one.  It is a “super grain” as it is a complete protein source, containing even the essential amino acid lysine that other grains do not have.   This also makes makes quinoa perfect for vegetarians and anyone who wishes to reduce their meat consumption. To learn more about this “special grain” check out  the world’s healthiest foods web site.

I often will make a large pot of quinoa and over the next couple days enjoy it with grilled vegetables, braised meat, curry, or even as part of a salad.  Here’s a recipe for quinoa salad that I made recently.  It is perfect for lunch on a warm day.

Quinoa Chickpea Salad

quinoa (cooked and cooled) – 1.5 cups
red pepper – 1/4
red onion – 1/4
chick peas – 3/4 cup
olive oil – 1 tbsp
lime – 1/2
black pepper – 1/2 tsp

Chop red onion and red pepper into small cubes, and add with chick peas to quinoa.  Mix together lime,olive oil  and black pepper to make salad dressing and pour on salad ingredients.  Fork mix everything and serve cold.  Note this is a lightly spice salad.  Add more dressing or some sea salt if your taste buds ask for it.

Directions for cooking quinoa: Cooking and cooling quinoa is the most time consuming part in the entire salad creation process so do it in advance like I do.  The dried quinoa seed itself keeps really well if stored properly, easily lasting a couple years – no excuse for running out of quinoa!. And when you cook it you get about 3 cups of cooked quinoa for 1 cup of dried quinoa seed. The cooked quinoa can keep in the fridge about a week.
To cook quinoa start with a pre-soak in cold water for around 5 min (can do it for longer – I’ve done up to an hour with no issues.) and rinse vigorously under cold running water using a fine mesh strainer.  Rub the quinoa grains against the mesh as your rinse to aid in the removal of saponin, quinoa’s outer coating that can taste bitter/soapy.  Transfer the rinsed quinoa to a pot, add a little olive oil, and water in the ratio of 1;2 quinoa:water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for about ten minutes. Turn off the heat, close pot completely and let it sit for another 5 minutes. Open pot and fluff quinoa with a fork. (You should see tiny spirals (the germ) separating from and curling around the quinoa seeds.)

Variations:  Add items like chopped kalamata olives and feta cheese.  Sometimes I use scallions instead of red onions. You could also change the ratio of chick peas to quinoa, or add corn, peas, and carrots.  You can check out food and wine, also, for some other quinoa salad recipes.