Fresh Market is one of my favorite organic food stores ever, and each time I go I can't walk by the fresh foods counter without getting a bowl of their delicious quinoa salad. I was first turned on to quinoa, (pronounced keen-wah), at a family gathering a few years ago, and it quickly has become an organic staple in our household for lunch as an entire meal and dinner as a popular side dish.
Quinoa looks like a mini pasta, with it's light and fluffy color and texture, but you'll be surprised to learn that it's actually a seed which belongs to the ever-popular grain family. The plant is a species of the Spanish Chenopodium, which is closely related to well-known plants like spinach, beets and tumbleweed. Quinoa was made for human consumption about 4,000 years ago inside Ecuador, however history tells us that the Quinoa plant has been around for over 7,000 years.
Quinoa is traditionally rinsed prior to cooking and is typically boiled before eating. Quinoa has a light nutty flavor, making it the perfect side dish, or bed of nutrients for your culinary creations. One of the best things about quinoa is its nutritional value. Not only is quinoa gluten free, but it it made up of 18% protein which is higher than any other grain we eat. It is high in fiber, and an excellent source of iron and magnesium.
My favorite quinoa dish has to be quinoa salad with roasted vegetables, which is a recipe I found on Delicously Organic a couple years back. The recipe is very easy to make, and most ingredients will come from your backyard garden in the spring and summer months. You will cook your rinsed quinoa in chicken stock for about twenty minutes while baking your vegetables, (a healthy combination of zucchini, carrots, red onion and peppers), in the oven with a bit of salt, pepper and olive oil. Add lemon juice and tomato paste to your quinoa mixture, as well as the vegetables and you've got a side dish that everyone will be begging for each dinner. I tend to serve this dish with organic chicken or a clean white fish as it truly allows for the fresh flavors of the vegetables, and the nutty flavors of the quinoa to come to your palette.