Jeweled Quinoa

jewel

Even the quinoa (kee-noo-ah) gleams in this beautiful, mouth-watering jewel of a dish.  If you’ve never had the grain before, this is a great introduction.  If you have, then add this salad to your repertoire.  Quinoa is widely available in the rice and grain aisle of your local supermarket or in the health food section.

1 C quinoa, red, black or white or a combination
2 C water
2 T olive oil
1  T minced fresh ginger
1 clove or 1 t minced fresh garlic
1 small carrot, diced (about ½ cup)
1 celery stalk, diced (about ½ cup)
½ red AND yellow pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
½ C peas, frozen is fine
3 scallions, thinly sliced (discard dark green part)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, dill, mint or basil for garnish (optional)

For the best flavor and fluffiest texture, dry-toast the quinoa before adding the water: rinse the quinoa according to the package directions, then put it in a medium pot without oil or butter. Let the grains dry out a bit and toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the water, bring to a boil and cover with a lid. Simmer  10-15 minutes-do not stir the quinoa while it is cooking. This will allow it to cook evenly and steam holes to form. The quinoa is cooked when you see the grains form a little white spiral tail. This is the outer germ of the grain that twists as it cooks, but stays attached to the kernel.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the vegetable medley. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick sauté pan, add the garlic and ginger and stir until the ginger is aromatic but not colored, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and sauté another minute; stir in the remaining vegetables and sauté just long enough for the vegetables to heat through, about three minutes. Remove from heat, add the cooked hot quinoa, season with lemon juice and zest, a little more olive oil, salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh herbs.  Serve, hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 4-6.

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