May 8, 2008
Here we have a humble quinoa salad. I find I much prefer food simply prepared for everyday eating, and this is one of those meals that is both quick to prepare, elegant looking and very satisfying to eat. Most of my meals take shape without much of a recipe, but I am learning to write these quick little meals down and share them because everyone always wants to know. Even though I LOVE the ease and availability of deli or restaurant food – and now we have that option more and more with live food, thank God! – I’ve always taken time to prepare my own food, usually more often than not. I mean, live food has only been available recently as a take out option! But even when I was cooked, I could easily find myself in the kitchen whipping up a batch of this or that rather than making a shopping trip, because there is just something about home-made meals, as we all know by now. With GMO’s and pesticides so prevelent, the safe feeling I get from knowing what each ingredient is and where it comes from – down to knowing who the grower is and how they farm – makes my meal that much more loving to my body. Now it just so happens that I know and trust the person who makes the raw food I most often get for take away, and I would eat his delicious meals everyday if I could, but even so, I do enjoy taking a spin in the kitchen myself and always have. It’s wonderfully creative process that engages nearly all of my senses.
This recipe, as I said, just came together without much thought, but I’ll outline it here for you in case you are new to sprouting grains. You need at least a one day headstart to sprout the quinoa. I sprout for two days, so this is a make ahead sort of recipe. If you make a big batch of the sprouts, you can also use them in a hearty breakfast by stirring in a 1/2 cup or so of nut cream or seed yogurt. I’ll blog a yogurt recipe soon.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and sprouted for one or two days. I prefer two.
1 cup of grated carrot
1 cup of finely grated or sliced cabbage
large handful of sunflower sprouts, to stir in just before serving (they’ll wilt in the vinaigrette if you let them sit too long)
vinaigrette, your choice
spirulina flakes and nutritional yeast to sprinkle on top, optional
SPROUT THE QUINOA: Rinse about 1 cup of quinoa in a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and swish it around to really wash them. Change the water once or twice. Quinoa has a biochemical protective coating, a type of saponin, that tastes very bitter and seems to make digestion difficult for some so rinse well! I leave it in the mesh strainer over a bowl, (either a very large bowl or a very small bowl so that there is air circulation for the sprouts), and put a plate over the top of the strainer to protect from bugs (fruit flys LOVE sprouts) and help retain moisture. If you have a sprouting jar, great. I like the air flow of the strainer, so I prefer that.
Rinse every morning and evening. If it is very hot in your kitchen, (a bit early in the season for that for most people, but here in the tropics it’s already warm weather), then rinse again throughout the day; sprouts will generate their own heat and can get quite hot, facilitating mold growth, so keep them fresh and rinsed.
After the quinoa has sprouted, rinse and drain 10 minutes or so to dry it out a bit and then toss it together with the other ingredients. It’s really too simple. If you’re not into oil, then use an avocado or a handful of hemp seeds to make a great creamy dressing in the blender with citrus, herbs and spices – I always get great results by just using whatever I have around and adding a pinch of sea salt and freshly crushed peppercorns. Lately I love adding one shallot to the mix, it really has a very different flavor than onion and is a French classic in vinaigrettes for a reason. Give it a try.
My personal favorite, and I think this makes the salad, is to add a generous sprinkle of both nutritional yeast and spirulina FLAKES – powder just doesn’t do it – right before serving. It’s not as nice if you stir it into a big batch and then let it sit. It gets mushy and yucky. However, without the sprinkles, this salad keeps very well in the fridge in it’s marinade. I think it’s even better after sitting in the marinade a few hours or even overnight. All of the ingredients soak up the flavor of the vinaigrette and still retain their own identity so that it becomes more than the sum of it’s parts, making for quite a fulfilling meal. It’s nice to serve this in tender, young cabbage leaf cups or tat soi spoons. Enjoy!