December 12, 2012

Nourishing Recipes: Warm Quinoa and Asparagus Salad

Quinoa, the wonder grain that isn't really a grain. Love it or hate it, quinoa has spread like wildfire and it's fast becoming a staple for the health conscious individual.  With the not so obvious pronunciation, 'keen-wah' ( and be sure someone will correct you if you mispronounce it), or keen-wahhhhh wahhhhh wahhhhh if you sit on the 'hate it, I don't see what all the fuss is about' side of the fence, a fairly high price tag and it being a food favourite amongst vocal health foodies ....well, I wouldn't be surprised if it's been coined the superfood for pretentious wankers. Ha! Reminds me of the recent frenzy sparked by Pete Evans' food choices such as alkalised water and activated almonds, featured in 'Day on a Plate' in The Sunday Life magazine.

Jest aside,  there are many really good reasons why I love's high in protein, it's actually a seed not a grain and is gluten free, it doesn't mess with my digestion, it tastes good and is super versatile. I'm still a little unsure on my position on the grain thing, to eat or not to eat. I do eat some grains, but I know there's lots of people out there with similar immune and chronic fatigue issues who have convincing reasons why they don't eat grains. Something for me to continue to ponder.

So how to prepare, cook and eat quinoa? I'm a huge fan of Wholefood cook Jude Blereau, and most of my whole food cooking tips come from her cookbooks. Quinoa Tip 1 rinse quinoa to remove its toxic, bitter coating. Tip 2 all grains (and quinoa) must be soaked before cooking. "Soaking delivers huge benefits to grain which all contain phytic acid in the outer layer or bran and enzymes that inhibit digestion. As little as seven hours of soaking in water at room temperature with some acid (lemon juice, vinegar, whey, buttermilk, yoghurt or kefir) encourages lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break these down. Another huge benefit is that lactobacilli break down gluten and other difficult to digest proteins, and in effect, pre digest the protein" Jude Blereau in Nova Magazine. For more info on how to prepare grains check out this extract from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD.

After soaking a cup of quinoa for a few days I ate it for breakfast with raspberries, coconut oil and almond milk and made this quinoa salad with seasonal ingredients, lemon zest for zing and slivered almonds for some crunch, served with grilled white fish.

Warm Quinoa and Asparagus Salad Recipe
1 cup quinoa, rinsed, soaked overnight at room temperature with 1 tbsp sheep's yoghurt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp vinegar (apple cider, or your choice)
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
large handful green beans
baby spinach leaves
handful of slivered almonds
1 tbsp mint, chopped
zest of 1/2 lemon
red onion, caramelised; goats cheese, crumbled 
Rinse and soak your quinoa with 1 tbsp of yoghurt (or other acidic food-lemon, whey) overnight. Rinse and bring 2 cups of water to 1 cup quinoa (note: you may find you only need to use half of the cooked quinoa for this recipe, depending on the ratio of quinoa to veg you like, and if you're serving it as a main or side dish. If so, save half some of the quinoa for another meal). Simmer with lid on for approx. 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. 

Tail and top green beans and cut in half. Chop woody ends of asparagus. Steam beans and asparagus for 1-2 minutes, just enough to gently cook, you still want them nice and crisp. Meanwhile turn your grill on to medium heat. Oil an oven proof tray with a little of the olive oil. Slice tomatoes in half, or leave them whole. Mix remainder of olive oil with minced garlic. Place asparagus and tomatoes on the oiled tray, and brush vegetables with the olive oil/garlic mix. Grill for approx. 10 minutes, or until tomatoes browning and starting to sink. 

Mix quinoa with a little extra oil olive, salt, pepper, stir through lemon zest and add the remainder of the ingredients. I didn't have any red onions or goats cheese on hand but I think they would bring a perfect balance of sweet and savoury to the dish. 

Serves 4.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a good recipe. I have bought a packet of quinoa but cooked nor tasted it yet.


thank you for sharing your thoughts. i love reading each and every comment x