When I grew up, nutrition was always as important to my mother as deliciousness. This is how my grandmother raised her and it’s the way I am raising my own kids.
Quinoa, an ancient grain native to Peru, is one of the most nutritious foods – there is a reason why it’s a staple in any health food store. We actually started having quinoa very young – when my brother and I were babies, my mom used to give us quinoa water (the water used when boiling quinoa) mixed with powdered milk. Babies in my family always had a beautiful glow and I don’t think that’s a coincidence – quinoa is high in protein, fiber and many important minerals. Now my own kids are growing up eating quinoa just like I did.
Here is a recipe that is always a hit with my clients when they ask me to provide them with healthy but delicious meals. It’s a versatile dish that can incorporate any seasonal vegetables – in the spring I love it with asparagus. Enjoy!
Quinoa Salad with Asparagus and Roasted Red Peppers in Lime Cumin Vinaigrette
2 cups quinoa
1/3 cup canola oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp annatto powder
½ tsp Aji mirasol paste (found at Latin American markets or online)
4 cups hot water
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup green asparagus, cooked and cut into ½” pieces
½ cup roasted peppers, diced
½ cup sundried tomatoes, julienned
1/3 cup lime juice
½ tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
Rinse the quinoa under cold water in a fine meshed strainer to remove any dirt or impurities. In a medium-sized pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat, add the onion and cook until translucent, then add crushed garlic and annatto powder. Stir then add aji mirasol and cook for 1 minute. Add the quinoa and hot water, mix all the ingredients together well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, leave uncovered and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa looks fluffy. Place the quinoa in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and separate it by running a fork through it. Once the quinoa cools down, add asparagus, peppers and sundried tomatoes.
In a separate bowl, combine lime juice, mustard, cumin seeds and olive oil and mix well. Pour the mixture over the quinoa and add chopped cilantro. Adjust seasoning if necessary and enjoy!
Cooking Tip: Always season quinoa after it is cooked because adding salt from the beginning will prevent it from cooking and becoming fluffy.