Thursday, March 11, 2010

Power Food

Quinoa is a very interesting food. The ancient Mayans ate it. It's not a grain; in fact, it is in closer relation to spinach and beets than it is to wheat! So being gluten-free is nice, but it is also high in protein and contains a complete set of amino acids, making it pretty darn amazing.

The only thing tricky about it is that if you buy it in bulk, you have to rinse it first. It has a slightly bitter coating on the outside of it called saponins that easily rinse away. If you buy it in a box, it comes pre-rinsed.

Besides being a fabulous superfood, I personally like its fluffy texture and mildly nutty taste. You can serve a stir fry over it or eat it for breakfast with maple syrup and dried fruit. I also like to make salads with it.

This is my go-to salad when the fridge needs to be cleaned out the night before our farm veggie delivery. You could easily substitute tuna for chicken or use chicken thighs instead of breasts and add all sorts of vegetables.

Yogurt Curry Quinoa Salad with Poached Chicken serves 4

2 cups quinoa, rinsed

1/4 head red cabbage, shredded and chopped
1/4 head savoy or green cabbage, shredded and chopped
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced or shredded
1 zucchini, shredded on box grater
2 0r 3 green onions, minced
handful cilantro, chopped

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

2 cups lowfat, plain yogurt
1 tablespoon of your favorite curry powder
squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Combine 2 cups rinsed quinoa with 4 cups water in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated. Allow to cool a little.

Meanwhile, place chicken breasts in another pan, fill with water until chicken is just covered. You may use a little wine here and throw in some dried or fresh herbs if you like. I added some smashed garlic cloves and a teaspoon of zatar, a middle eastern mixture of thyme and sesame seeds. Bring to a low boil and cook until chicken is firm, 15-20 minutes. I cut into the chicken after about 15 minutes to check for doneness. Drain chicken and cut into 1/2" chunks.

Combine yogurt with curry powder, lemon juice, and salt and pepper and then combine with the chopped vegetables. Add chicken and quinoa, toss thoroughly to coat with dressing and serve!

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