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.

Chick Peas and Swiss Chard with Amaranth

This weekend I cooked chickpeas with Swiss chard and the end result was delicious, so I thought that I would share.

Ingredients: 1 cup of pressure cooked chick peas (can use canned ones if you wish), pepper, two green chilies, a handful of purple basil, salt, cumin seed powder,coriander powder, chili powder, tumeric powder, .25tsp of cinnamon powder, two small cardamon cloves, crushed ginger (not more than .25 tsp), three crushed cloves of garlic, large onion, large tomato, and 8/9 Swiss Chard leaves.

Chop up large onion and saute in oil, add spices to taste (Watch out for turmeric and ginger – how much you add of those as too much can make a dish bitter.  I would say it is ok to add up to a level teaspoon of cumin and coriander. Black pepper and chili powder add pungency=heat so add according to how hot you want it to be.)  Add chopped up tomato, and then chopped basil.  Add chickpeas and after cooking for about 10 minutes, add the chopped Swiss chard on top, and cook for another 5, turn off heat, and mix Swiss chard with chick peas and let sit for another ten.  Ready to eat!

I cooked the amaranth separately using a ratio of 2.25 cups of water to 1 cup of amaranth.  Bring to boil and then let simmer until cooked.

Chick Peas in a Spicy Tamarind Sauce

To a hot pot with oil add 2 small chopped onions, and after frying for a while add spices.  Add a tsp of cumin powder, a pinch of turmeric, half a tsp of black pepper, two tsp of chopped garlic in water, a pinch of crushed ginger, a tsp of chili powder, and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon powder.  Mix and let fry for 5 or so minutes before adding a large chopped tomato.  Then add 1 cup of chick peas (otherwise known as garbanzo beans), a tablespoon of Maggi tamarind sauce, two hot peppers, and a handful of chopped cilantro. Let simmer for 15/20 minutes so that the peas absorb the flavors.  Voila! You have spicy chick peas in a tamarind sauce.