Quinoa Confessions

From   |  November 07, 2016
In Kitchen Basics
Featured Recipe: Lemony Quinoa Salad with Cranberries

Lemony Quinoa Salad with Cranberries

I have a culinary confession to make: I’ve been a little intimidated by quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa). Oh, I’ve seen it on the grocery store shelves, right there by the other funky grains and even brought it home to sit on my shelf. I’ve seen the rock-star TV chef’s make funny looking little pilafs with it, even tried a bite or two of a stuffing made with it at a fancy restaurant a month or so ago. But I haven’t had the courage to actually cook with it myself.
A few weeks ago, I made myself get the stuff out and cook a batch – straight. I figure you can’t know how to use it until you’ve tasted it in its purest form. To my great surprise it wasn’t strange or weird at all. In fact, straight cooked quinoa has a wonderful little nutty flavor and interesting texture akin to a cross between bulgur and al dente Israeli couscous.

I immediately thought salad, which I had promised myself I’d eat more of lately. Since really good fresh veggies are harder to come by in the fall and winter, mixing a bit of dried fruit and grain into your salad just makes sense. I had dried cranberries leftover from another recipe and lemon and parsley live in my frig, so a tabouli-style salad was easy to throw together.
You can substitute any dried fruit you may have on hand, apricots, raisins, cherries or a mixture of all of the above. The sweet punch is a perfect foil to the bright lemon dressing and bite of the parsley. I was surprised how filling the salad is, just by itself. But it makes a fine side-salad as well. Culinary fear conquered. And now I have brilliant new salad to add to the mix. Enjoy!

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