Sunday, June 12

Quinoa, Pea, & Mint Salad

Over the weekend I purchased a steal at a garage sale.  A Martha Stewart recipe book for only $1!  It’s has some great dinner recipes and really nice pictures that go along with them.  As I was browsing through all the recipes I found this one for quinoa salad.  I like couscous and quinoa looks very similar so I decided to try it.  Right next to the recipe Martha has a description about quinoa.  Quinoa is a grain (pronounced “KEEN-wah”) that has a nutty flavor.  It’s an excellent source of protein and is the only non-animal protein that contains all the essential amino acids.  It’s also rich in iron, calcium, vitamins E & B. 

Oddly enough, the hardest part about making this dish is rinsing the quinoa.  I know, it sounds very easy right?  Wrong.  Quinoa is super fine and so small that if you were to rinse it with using a strainer it would fall through.  I put the quinoa into a small bowl, poured water on top of it, swirled it around and then became stumped as to how I would strain the water out.  I went online to see what type of help I could find and I found a video demonstration that shows how to accomplish this.  By using 2 bowls (1 to hold the quinoa and the water, 1 to stain the water) you can separate the grains from the water.  You might think, well maybe I’ll just skip rinsing the grains but if quinoa is not rinsed properly before it’s cooked, it will have a bitter flavor.  So don’t skip this important step.

Look how tiny the grains are!

The quinoa cooks on the stove for a little while and is supposed to absorb the chicken stock, just like how rice absorbs water when it cooks.  I started to panic a little bit as mine did not look like it was absorbing the chicken stock fully, but when I pulled the lid off after it cooked the full time almost all the liquid was absorbed.  With the small amount of stock that remained in the pan I just ended up draining it.  

The mixture after the water has been absorbed.

 More than anything I was excited to find a side-dish so high in protein.  I ate the salad at room temperature and I found the flavors pleasing but I’m not quite sure I’d go out of my way to make the dish again.  The only flavor I wasn’t sure about was the mint.  I can’t say I didn’t like it but I can’t say I liked it either.  Overall I think the mixture tasted good and had a really nice texture.  I was surprised as I didn’t think Ryan would care for the dish that much but he actually said it tasted good and that it was a nice change.  Next time I make this again I would use this recipe as a base and try finding other recipes that include nuts and perhaps dried fruit.  I think these additions would make for an even more interesting combination.

Quinoa, Pea, & Mint Salad
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Dinner at Home: 52 Quick Meals to Cook for Family and Friends, by Martha Stewart (Amazon affiliate link)
Serves: 6-8
Prep Time:  5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper

  1. Bring chicken stock and quinoa to a hard boil in large saucepan.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook 10 minutes.
  3. Add peas.  Cover and cook until quinoa is tender but still chewy and has absorbed the liquid (approximately 5-10 minutes).
  4. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork.  Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the olive oil, stirring to combine well. 
  6. Let mixture cool slightly cool (about 5 minutes) before adding the mint.
  7. Best served warm or at room temperature.

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