Quinoa is all the rage now, but I was introduced to this ancient grain back in the 1980s. My mom bought it because it had a ton of health benefits and because there was a mystique about it being a rediscovered grain of the Incas. She made some unremarkable dish with it and the remaining bag was put back into the pantry never to be seen again. None of us were impressed. Through the years, I tried my hand at quinoa, but the truth is it never captured my heart. Millet, another odd-ball grain, was a million times better in my opinion and I turned my back on quinoa.
But friends and food bloggers said "give red quinoa a try!". I tentatively bought a small bag of red organic quinoa from my local market and didn't hold much hope. My first try was a simple dish with sauteed kale. The results were surprisingly tasty and I was open to giving quinoa another go.
This yam salad is something I make quite often with couscous or millet, but decided to swap in some quinoa instead. Sure, it's a powerhouse of a dish and makes a great lunch. It's nutrient-rich, but it's also all kinds of tasty. Maple syrup, lemon juice, garlic, are tossed with spicy roasted yams and, of course, quinoa.
Quinoa, you are starting to turn out to be a rather fetching grain!
Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad
You can use whatever quinoa you have available (I'm partial to the red kind). This salad can be eaten warm or cold and is extra delicious with a smattering of toasted almonds, cranberries and feta cheese crumbled over top.
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable stock
3 yams, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon mexican chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon, apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 green onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons sliced toasted almonds (optional)
small handful of dried cranberries (optional)
feta cheese crumbles (optional)
Bring vegetable stock to a boil and add in quinoa. Cover and simmer over medium heat until tender and mostly absorbed. Drain, fluff with a fork and set aside.
Meanwhile, toss yams with olive oil, cumin, chili powder and cayenne and bake in a 400F oven for about 20 minutes or until tender.
In a small serving dish, toss together the quinoa and yams. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar (taste & adjust seasonings, if necessary) and pour over salad. Add in green onions and combine. Serve and top with almonds, cranberries and/or feta (if using). Dig in!
Serves 2 as a main dish.
By Jeannette Ordas of Everybody likes Sandwiches