You know that quinoa has become part of the mainstream vocabulary when it shows up in a beer commercial during a football broadcast on television. Sure, the guy eating the quinoa burger refers to it as “kwee-noh” and his friend who is looking on asks,”what is that, a loofah?” Enough people “get it” to make this a funny commercial.
Quinoa, pronounced “KEEN wah” is showing up these days in everything from whiskey, to chips, chocolate bars and yes, burgers. Quinoa is an edible seed or a pseudo-grain, because it is cooked and used in recipes like a grain. It is closely related to beets, chard, spinach and even tumbleweeds. Quinoa is unique because it is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids and provides “good” fat along with fiber, potassium and iron. Since it is not a grain, quinoa is well suited for gluten free diets.
Even though most quinoa is sold prerinsed, it is a good idea to rinse it before proceeding with your recipe to remove any remaining saponin, a bitter coating that protects the plant from insects. Submerge the quinoa in a bowl of cold water, swish it around and drain it in your finest strainer. Like rice, the cooking ratio is 2:1 liquid to grain.
In this recipe from Fine Cooking magazine, nutty quinoa is combined with crisp summer vegetables, spicy arugula and a slightly sweet miso vinaigrette. I used red quinoa in this recipe but white or black would be fine too. I used the radishes from our garden. They have peaked now with the onset of the warmer weather. I also included Japanese turnips in the salad that we are harvesting now. Unlike the standard turnip, the Hakurei variety is pure white, very mild and sweet, even when raw. Don’t hesitate to add the pickled ginger, it brings just a little spiciness and acidity to the salad. This salad will be a welcome addition to picnics and potlucks all summer long.
Quinoa, Cucumber, Radish and Turnip Salad with Miso Vinaigrette
- 2-3/4 cups plus 1/3 cup lower-salt vegetable or chicken broth
- 3 Tbs. white miso
- 3 T seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 T soy sauce, preferably reduced sodium
- 1 T Asian sesame oil
- 1/2 cup canola or other neutral vegetable oil
- 2 T chopped sweet pickled sushi ginger
- 1 1/2c red quinoa, any color will do
- 1c Japanese baby turnips
- 2c cucumbers, cut into bite sized pieces
- 2c radishes, cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 packed cups of arugula
- Put 1/3 cup of the broth and the miso, vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a blender; blend to combine. With the motor running, slowly add the canola oil to make a creamy dressing. Add the ginger and pulse a couple of times to very finely chop.
- In a 2- to 3-quart saucepan, bring the remaining 2-3/4 cups broth to a simmer over medium heat. Add the quinoa, cover, turn the heat down to medium low, and cook until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- Toss the quinoa, turnips, cucumber, radishes, and greens together. Add 3/4 cup of the vinaigrette, toss, and serve, passing the remaining dressing at the table. (Save the remaining vinaigrette for other salads; it will keep for at least 3 days in the refrigerator.)