While the debate about Quinoa’s knitniyot status continues to rage on, I would like to encourage you all to make the most of this wonderful source of protein, which is an edible seed that is related to vegetables such as beets and spinach, because next year it may be off the table for Ashkenazim.
Here’s a really great way to use quinoa in a salad and make it very Mediterranean in flavor. Tabbouleh salad is very popular round these parts. Personally, I’m not a big fan of bulgar, so I don’t make this. By substituting quinoa for bulgar, not only do you make this salad kosher for Pesach, you also, in my opinion, make it a lot tastier.
After making this salad, I then threw some mini red peppers into the oven to roast, and stuffed them with the salad as a really pretty and delicious starter. Israeli supermarkets and green grocers have been flooded lately with these wonderful mini red peppers, which are sweet and crunchy, and great to snack on. I took some of the bigger ones to roast and stuff, and it’s a hit. It is a little finicky, but work around the table was that it’s worth it.
MIDDLE EASTERN QUINOA SALAD
1 cup raw quinoa
½ red onion very finely chopped
2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 cup of chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander (optional)
Juice of half a lemon
About ¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
How to do it
1. Preparing the quinoa: Rinse the quinoa in a strainer under running cold water for about 2 minutes. Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan, and add the strained quinoa, a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bring to the boil, and turn down the heat to low. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the water has cooked away (I always check after it’s been cooking for about 15 minutes to make sure it doesn’t overcook.) Turn off the heat and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Allow to cool completely.
2. Soak the chopped onion in a bowl of cold water for a minute or two – this will eliminate the very pungent flavor and mellow the onion a bit. Strain.
3. Place the cooled quinoa into a medium-sized bowl and add the vegetables and herbs. Mix through.
4. Dress with the lemon, oil, salt and pepper, and mix. Taste and add more of any of the dressing ingredients to taste.
Serves about 6.
FOR STUFFED MINI PEPPERS
20-24 large mini red peppers
About one third of the salad
How to do it
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
2. Wash and dry the peppers, do not remove the stalks. Using a small serrated knife, cut a slit down the length of the pepper leaving just a few millimeters at the top and at the bottom.
3. Cover a baking tray with baking paper and grease it with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the peppers on the baking tray and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes. Then turn the peppers over and roast for another 10 minutes or until the peppers start taking on dark brown patches. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
4. Using a very small teaspoon, stuff some of the quinoa mixture into each pepper. Serve at room temperature.
Serves about 4.