Today we have a guest post from our nephew Ryan Moore, who came up with this yummy quinoa dish. It’s a nice change from all of the rich foods of the winter holidays, and it’s very pretty too.
By Ryan Moore
Quinoa is a wonderful, soft, light, fluffy, grainlike seed that can easily be tossed into salads or serve as a replacement for other grains. It’s so easy to prepare too. My mother, in her explorations of healthy gluten-free alternatives to wheat, introduced me to quinoa, and it quickly became a favorite.
The ingredients for a simple, delicious and healthy salad.
I started out thinking I would create something like tabouleh with it, but the homogeneous nature of traditional tabouleh doesn’t suit fluffy quinoa, so I broke it into two parts: the warm nutty quinoa and a delicious seasonal mixture of pomegranate and cucumber. I liked that combination a lot, but I thought it needed something just a little richer and sweeter than the traditional olive oil and lemon juice as a dressing, so I came up with a yogurt-honey dressing.
Quinoa Cucumber-Pomegranate Salad
•1 cup dry quinoa
•1tbs butter or ghee
•1/2tsp ground cumin (whole Cumin can also be used)
•2 pods black cardamom, ground
•1 clove garlic, pressed
•2 cups water
•Salt to taste
•½ English cucumber, or 2-3 Persian cucumbers, diced
•½ red onion, quartered and finely sliced
•flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
•1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
•juice from 1 lemon, plus some of the lemon zest
•1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
•Mint, chiffonade or finely chop
•Honey to taste
Preparation: Heat butter/ghee (I like to use ghee because it tolerates high) in a pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the cardamom, cumin and salt. Stir or swirl that together; it should become fragrant almost immediately–just make sure it doesn’t burn. Add the pressed garlic and when you can smell the garlic, pour in the dry quinoa. Stir that around for 30-60 seconds. Add water, cover, bring to a boil and then simmer until done.
While the quinoa is cooking, mix together the yogurt, mint and honey; set aside. You’ll notice there are no amounts given–that’s because your taste buds must be the guideline. Start with a cup of yogurt and a dollop of honey, plus a tablespoon of mint chiffonade. Add more of any single ingredient until you have a flavor you love.
Separate out the pomegranate kernels. If you’ve never done this before, it’s easiest to completely submerge the pomegranate in water, split or cut it in half, and then liberate the kernels (yes, I do mean liberate; they are delicate). The pith will float to the surface and the kernels will fall to the bottom. Combine the pomegranate kernels and the remaining ingredients in a bowl and toss them together gently.
As far as presentation goes, the only important guideline is the separation of the three components. For single servings, simply place a serving spoon’s worth of quinoa into a bowl or onto a plate, top with a generous dollop of mint yogurt and top with the pomegranate-cucumber mixture.
Hazel served it at her holiday party in a large shallow bowl, mounding the quinoa in the bowl and then creating a well in the center for the yogurt sauce, with a festive wreath of the pomegranate-cucumber salad circling it.
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