Quinoa is an Andean super food–one that has been cultivated for thousands of years. A source of complete protein, it is used and cooked like a grain, though it is technically a seed. Because of its “exceptional nutritional qualities, its agro-ecological adaptability, and its potential contribution in the fight against hunger and malnutrition,” quinoa has been honored by the United Nations: 2013 will be the International Year of Quinoa.
But quinoa deserves praise for its gastronomic adaptability, too. In this case, it makes a successful appearance in a salad with flavor origins a world away from the Andes. This salad, with its strong Thai accents, is a deliciously light and crisp summer dish.
Thai-Style Quinoa Salad
1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp. salt
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 carrot, shredded
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced (if using English cucumber, no need to peel)
1/3 c. chopped fresh mint
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
6 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. fish sauce (can substitute tamari or soy sauce)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Add quinoa, salt, and 1 1/2 c. water to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes, until water is absorbed. Turn off heat and let quinoa sit for 5 minutes. Place in a large serving bowl and let cool completely.
When quinoa is cool, add red bell pepper, carrot, and cucumber and mix well.
To make the dressing, whisk together the lime juice and sugar in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Stir in the fish sauce/tamari/soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Add the dressing to the salad and toss. Gently mix in the mint and cilantro.
Source: Raising the Salad Bar, by Catherine Walthers