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Archive for August 26th, 2008

Quick Food Photo (Quinoa-Pea Salad)

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

I am busy on another deadline, no time for new photos to be processed today. Fortunately, I have a few photos stored away for just this sort of situation.

quinoapeasalad.jpgHere is a photo of a lunch I made recently. I didn’t write a recipe, did not measure ingredients, but almost any combination would work. It was very satisfying.

For the record, quinoa (pronounce KEEN-waah) is an ancient grain (maybe not technically grain, I think it qualifies as a fruit) which contains complete protein. It substitutes for rice well in a lot of recipes.

I do not like meat, but I need a lot more protein than I enjoy eating. This allows me to balance things more closely to my tastes.

I did not like quinoa the first several times I tried it. It grows with a soap-like substance on it (theoretically this keeps insects and birds away). Even though every package I ever bought said it was rinsed for me, I could taste the stuff and it took away from enjoying my meal.

Then my friend Barbara told me to not just rinse it but wash it with a little friction. I now put my measured quinoa in a large bowl full of water, let it sit for 3 minutes or so, and then literally get my hands in there and rub the grains between my hands. The water gets a bit cloudy.

I then dump out as much of the cloudy water as I can, fill again with clear water (notice it makes bubbles when you fill it up) and repeat a few times until the water is less cloudy (some of the cloudiness I attribute to starch so I don’t try to get it to run clear).

Put in fine colander and rinse one last time. I use a towel under the colander to soak up much of the last water. The grains are tiny, smaller than sesame seeds, so not all colanders/strainers will work.

(If this seems too much work, just cover it with warm water and leave alone for 30 minutes while you prepare other ingredients. Then rub a little, rinse well, and go.)

Then cook per package instructions. Lately I have been cooking it in a crock pot as an experiment, so far so good but no solid measurements yet. Some people put it in a rice cooker.

For the record, last week I tried red quinoa (it comes in a box, not a bag, in my healthy market) and love it. There is less soapy stuff to rinse off, and it has a little more texture. Sort of like brown rice as opposed to white. Lovely.

Sometimes I combine hot quinoa and hot green peas (from frozen), with butter or olive oil, sesame seeds and a little sea salt. This day was a hot one and so I wanted a cold salad instead.

OK so here it goes, an un-recipe for a good summer lunch:

Quinoa/Green Pea Summer Salad

Thaw about 1/3 cup green frozen peas until not frozen but still cold (in refrigerator for a few hours works best, or carefully defrost in microwave)

Fill one-person salad bowl just over half-full with quinoa (maybe 3/4 cup?) If no quinoa available, try short-grain brown rice.

Chop half a red or yellow bell pepper (or one whole carrot, or any other veggie that is good raw)

Crush 1/4 cup of California black olives or other olives as you prefer (optional)

Put veggies, olives and peas on quinoa in bowl, and mix if desired.

Drizzle with healthy oil of your choice (I used flax oil but olive or walnut would be great).

Squeeze juice of about a half a citrus fruit on salad. I prefer lime but this time I used a little grapefruit.

If desired, shake some gomasio/sesame shake (crushed sesame seeds with sea salt) on the top for beauty and flavor. Eden Foods makes a black sesame version that is just beautiful as a garnish.

If you used rice rather than quinoa, perhaps add almond slivers or shell-less raw pumpkin seeds/pepitas for more protein and a little crunch.

If you have time, chill for a half hour to let flavors combine. If hungry and in a hurry, jump right in.

Enjoy!