Is one of your new year's resolutions about eating better? Yeah, me too. In fact, I have a whole list of food resolutions: eating more vegetables every day, particularly leafy greens; eating whole grains; taking my lunch to work every day; and generally being more disciplined about how I eat.
In fact let me sum up my resolutions for you: Everything I've been doing, I am going to stop doing. Everything I haven't been doing, I'm going to start doing.
I'm joking! Kind of.
This salad covers much of my list. It's full of healthy vegetables like watercress, it's made with a whole grain -- OK, it's actually a seed but for my purposes we'll call it a whole grain --, and it makes a good lunch. In fact, I've had it for lunch the last two days and plan on having it for lunch again today.
It's been some time -- like years -- since the one and only time I tried quinoa previously. It wasn't a good experience and I can't remember specifics other than the fact it tasted so bad it killed any desire I had to eat it again. But based on information I've read since, I realize that I didn't adequately rinse the quinoa. It wasn't the quinoa, it was me. Quinoa is coated with a bitter substance called saponin which must be rinsed off before cooking the quinoa.
But at the time of my first quinoa foray quinoa knowledge wasn't as widely distributed as it is now. In fact, at the time I was under the impression that the pronunciation was quin-OH-a or something of the sort. Who would have guessed that a word spelled q-u-i-n-o-a would be pronounced KEEN-wah? Not me. But I've sinced learned. The miracles of the internet.
Another development of the intervening years: prewashed quinoa is now available. In fact, based on my reading, it seems as if much quinoa is sold already washed. The exception seems to be quinoa sold in the bulk bins. If you have any doubts though, rinse your quinoa repeatedly to make sure you've gotten rid of the coating.
Quinoa has a mild, slightly nutty taste and makes a good backdrop to stronger flavors such as the sharpness of the watercress here. This salad held up well for the second day. Just make sure it comes to room temperature before you eat it. You might also want to refresh it with a little additional vinaigrette. This is also the sort of thing that can be varied endlessly. I'm thinking that the next time I make it I will use mango in place of the radishes and use a lime vinaigrette.
Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Adapted from the excellent Raising the Salad Bar which is my new favorite full-of-healthy-recipes book.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 bunch watercress, roughly chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
5 radishes, halved from top to bottom then sliced as thinly as possible
1 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1. Add quinoa, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 1/2 cups water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover pan and cook for 13 to 15 minutes, until water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit until it has cooled completely.
2. In a small bowl, stir 1/4 tsp kosher salt into 1/4 cup lemon juice. Slowly whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil.
3. Put the watercress, cucumber, carrot, radishes, and pepper in a large bowl. Salt them lightly. Add quinoa to bowl, then toss lightly with vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve.