Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is thought to have originated with Incan cultures thousands of years ago in the likes of Peru, Chile and Bolivia. It comes in all sorts of different colours and there are now strains that grow successfully in temperate climates like Britain, giving this ancient crop much more potential as a sustainable crop.
Quinoa self seeds easily and seems to do well if it gets neglected and the soil conditions aren’t optimal. As an avid gardener, it gets my vote!
Quinoa is actually a seed (although we love to use it in place of a grain). If you grow your own then the leaves can be eaten just like spinach.
Quinoa is an excellent ‘complete’ protein food, containing all 9 essential amino acids. It also contains lysine, which is important for synthesising protein (quinoa contains more lysine than all other grains).
This super healthy food cooks quickly, in around 20 minutes, making it a top-notch option when short of time. It serves hot or cold, working well as part of a salad dish or part of a Buddha bowl. It’s also an excellent option to stuff into rice paper salad wraps or tortilla wraps along with hummus.
The playful colour also makes this quinoa dish a great addition to a pot luck buffet, a curry night or as party food. My favourite way to serve this is as part of Mexican themed fiesta night along with Black Bean Vegan Tacos and guacamole.
This dish is easy to cook. The first stage involves cooking the quinoa with the turmeric. I use a ratio of 100g of quinoa to 350ml water and half a teaspoon of turmeric.
It’s nice to toast the quinoa first to bring an extra depth of flavour (although it works fine without toasting if you want to miss out that stage). Toasting simply involves using a dash of coconut or olive oil in your pan and tossing the quinoa in it for a couple of minutes until you get a slightly toasted scent.
The delightful yellow colour comes from using a small amount of turmeric. I always add black pepper when turmeric is involved as the ‘piperine’ in black pepper has been shown in clinical trials to increase the bioavailability of turmeric and increase absorption into the cells by up to 2000%. Peperine makes it much easier for the beneficial turmeric compounds to pass the intestinal wall. Therefore, it’s strongly recommended that you always add some black pepper when using turmeric.
Once cooked (after about 20 minutes or when the water is all absorbed) straining is usually not required. You can then add in the ground coriander and smoked paprika.
In the meantime chop your green onions (called spring onions if you are in England), red pepper and finely chop your parsley. Add these when the quinoa has fully cooled down along with the sesame oil, hemp oil and tamari.
My Quick Quinoa Salad video
Please have a look at my video (1.11 mins long – so really quick) to see how easy this is to make…
- 100g quinoa
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 350ml water
- ¼ black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ red sweet pepper
- Small handful fresh parsley
- 2 green onions/spring onions
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon hemp oil
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- Gently toast the quinoa. Toast in a medium sized pan by first heating a teaspoon of coconut or olive oil. Toss in the quinoa and then stir occasionally over two or three minutes. You will start to get a slightly toasted aroma when it is ready (be sure not to over-toast it).
- Add the water to the quinoa.
- Add the turmeric and black pepper and put the lid on the pan.
- Bring the contents to the boil and then allow to simmer. It should take about 20 minutes to fully cook the quinoa, at which point all of the water should be absorbed.
- Allow the quinoa to cool.
- Finely chop the parsley and green onions (called spring onions in the UK).
- Chop the red pepper into small squares.
- When the quinoa has cooled to room temperature add all remaining ingredients and mix in.
- Serve immediately. This also keeps fine for three days in the fridge.