Scrumptious Easy Quinoa Side Dish + Recipes Perfect for Picnics or Anytime
Highly Nutritious and Easy to Make!
This scrumptious quinoa side dish is my own version of an easy recipe I first saw on one of the food network channels using some ingredients from my own garden. It would be a perfect picnic dish or could be served almost anytime one wishes to eat a delicious and highly nutritious meal.
Unfamiliar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) until my husband and I happened to be watching that particular show together, I was intrigued.
It looks a bit like couscous which we both like. When I found out that it is an exceptional source of protein I decided to try it sometime.
My hubby and I were shopping in Costco one day when I spotted a 4 pound bag of it. While it might have been nice to have sampled a little smaller amount to make sure that we would like it we decided to go ahead and make that purchase.
Those of you who are familiar with membership warehouse stores like Costco or Sam's know that items are generally presented in larger amounts which is perfect for large families or people who enjoy the savings by purchasing items presented in bulk.
Thus we took a leap of faith that it would be good and I am pleased to showcase my first successful recipe using quinoa as the base ingredient.
I took a picture of the bag that we purchased at Costco. It was easy to see the little beads of the 100% whole grain through the clear window. Also being able to see that it was organic, gluten free, wheat free and a protein source encouraged my purchase of the quinoa.
Reading the back of the bag it described the quinoa as having a slightly nutty flavor.
It contains all eight essential amino acids making it a terrific source of protein for vegetarians as well as other people who simply wish to be choosing good and nutritious foods to put into their bodies.
Other benefits include being high in calcium, iron, B vitamins, magnesium and fiber.
Two recipes were on the back of the bag. One of them was a Quinoa Pilaf which suggested using chopped onion, carrots, vegetable broth, chopped walnuts and parsley.
Toasted almonds and cranberries were the main ingredients along with flavorings for the other suggested quinoa recipe on the bag.
It was easy to surmise that both sweet and savory dishes could be concocted using quinoa.
This easy recipe that I created only necessitates a few items with which to prepare this tasty side dish. If you have a cutting board, sharp knife, measuring cup, sieve and pot for cooking the quinoa with a bowl to later combine all the elements...you are ready to begin!
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
3 or 4 large table onions
1 yellow pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 of a large English cucumber
1 large lemon
large handful of fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground pepper to taste
- Measure out the quinoa and either soak the grains for a while afterwards straining them or put into a sieve and hold under running water until the water runs clear.
Much of the quinoa one purchases has already been rinsed before being packaged. But this extra rinsing of the product eliminates any bitterness that might still be attached to the grain.
- After rinsing put into a pot with the water and bring to a boil after which the quinoa is simmered until done.
This takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Watch the pot as all of the liquid will have been absorbed when the quinoa is fully cooked.
It should still have a slightly chewy feel and the look of it will change. A white spiral-like little curly thread-like appearance will be surrounding or will be separated from the individual grains of the quinoa.
A picture of what it looks like cooked is provided here.
- Cool the quinoa to at least room temperature. I put the cooked quinoa into the refrigerator in a bowl which would hold all of the other ingredients to help speed up this cooling process.
Preparing the Rest of the Ingredients
- Chop the English cucumber into small diced pieces.
We prefer using those cucumbers for their burpless feature but of course regular cucumbers would be just fine to use especially if you have them growing in your garden.
Zucchini would be a nice alternate ingredient.
- Dice the yellow pepper into similar sized pieces.
Any other colored pepper would also be fine. Yellow or orange peppers offer more color contrast to the dish when finished but use what you have especially if grown in your garden.
- Slice both the white and green parts of green table onions for use in this quinoa side dish.
The extra long green onions were from our garden so if you are purchasing them from a grocery store you might need one or two more to make up for the size of the ones I utilized. Naturally you could also substitute another type of mild onion if you wish.
- Using approximately a pint of grape tomatoes I cut them in half or quartered them depending upon the size of each one.
Attempt to make each of the additional ingredients relative in size to the others for a pretty presentation. If you want to substitute other types of tomatoes just cut them proportionately to approximate these.
- Mint grows profusely in our garden. After removing the individual leaves I rolled a good amount of them in a tight bunch and then sliced through with a sharp knife leaving shreds of mint to be mixed throughout the quinoa side dish.
If you do not have mint, parsley would be a good substitute although the flavor will obviously be different.
It is easy to substitute vegetables or herbs of your own choosing with this recipe. Just try to provide some that will add some color and crunch to this cold quinoa side dish.
Completing This Recipe
- After adding all the chopped ingredients to the cooled and cooked quinoa, make a dressing using extra virgin olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice and salt and pepper. The ratio is approximately 2 parts extra virgin olive oil to 1 part lemon juice or to taste.
- Blend well and refrigerate.
This quinoa side dish can be served chilled or at room temperature which makes it a perfect food combination to take to a picnic as there is nothing that will quickly spoil at warmer temperatures.
This recipe makes a large portion which will feed many people if used as a side dish. It filled a 48 oz (3 pound plastic lidded container) that was recycled from a different purchase some time ago. I'm big into recycling things.
Serve it anytime alone or with other dishes and be prepared for compliments. Bon Appetite!
Just click on any of the videos below to get other ideas of how versatile cooking with quinoa can be. It can be made into sweet or savory dishes.
Do you think that you will give this or other quinoa recipes a try?
© 2010 Peggy Woods