Blog Archive

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Arugula and some nice Kudos

A Recipe:
Quinoa Salad with Arugula

...and some nice kudos

We all hate to toot our own horns. Truly, most of us do. Hate it. But the lovely review of a recent talk/cooking class I gave to the San Miguel Garden Club just begs to be shared. I was so touched by the words of President Leigh Gersnoviez in the Garden Club's monthly newsletter, that I asked if I could use it on both my blog and my newsletter. Thank you to all of the Garden Club Members.

The Sazón Cooking School with its specialized kitchen complete with overhead mirrors and closed circuit TVs provided the perfect setting for our program on the art of preparing perky recipes with pungent plants. Victoria Challancin introduced as “fascinating and charming” and in other glowing terms…, is a well-known expert and teacher of food preparation, specializing in the use of herbs and other plants. She maintains a newsletter and blog named Flavors of the Sun to which all of us are invited to subscribe and use and is a trip organizer
to exotic places.

Victoria began with a fascinating history lesson on the nasturtium and then taught us to love its colors (yellow to red), versatility (pestos and salad to simple adornment), health benefits (natural antibiotic) and flavor (pungent to spicy). Since the group expressed such interest in the medicinal qualities, Victoria gave us recipes for both an elixir and tincture of the leaves for use as a fast-acting antibiotic which does not kill the flora in the intestines. It was obvious from this informative and lively discussion that Victoria is a history and academics buff who is coincidentally fascinated by botany, loves cooking and can translate all that into unusual and flavorful dishes thus bringing all her
loves together in the kitchen.

She pointed out how beneficial and underused are the whole family of salad greens and how our health could be vastly improved by their inclusion in our diets. Arugula, now growing wild in the campo as well as being available in our organic markets, has forty known medicinal uses and is now being studied in universities as a treatment for stomach ulcers and is thought to be is a tremendous cancer fighter. Its [flower] leaves form the shape of a cross and [for this reason the members of the Crucifer/Brassiasceae are] sometimes called the “plants that serve man”. Victoria continued her green plant discussion with examples of the actual plants being passed among us so we could touch, taste and smell them.

Watercress is an acquatic plant which is high in sulphur content and used as a strong diuretic as well for pulmonary and kidney problems. It is a blood purifier that also contains high levels of iodine, potassium and vitamins. [Quinoa} is a round-seeded grain full of all essential amino acids and therefore very healthy. Victoria is so well-informed and gives such an entertaining stream of conversation that we could have spent the entire day listening and watching her prepare dishes…

She stressed the need to support the local organic farmers and to change our diet to include these tasty and healthy foods. Many thanks
to Victoria for her fun and informative commentary, the shared dishes to
taste and the “perky” recipes.

And here is one of those "perky" recipes:

Quinoa Salad with Arugula
(Recipe by Victoria Challancin)
Serves 4 to 6
Note: Toasting the quinoa before cooking in water, either in oil or in a dry skillet, brings out its nutty flavor. I also tossed cubes of raw yellow crookneck squash into the salad, just because I had one begging to be eaten.

1 1/2 cups quinoa, well-washed and drained
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 small bunch arugula, stemmed and cut into julienne
1/4 cup basil or mint leaves, cut into julienne
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 bell pepper (yellow gives a nice contrasting color), seeded,
deveined, and diced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Quinoa needs to be washed before cooking to get rid of bitter saponins. Even though most quinoa is pre-washed, it is best to put it into a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well under cold water for at least 1 minute. Allow it to drain for 2 or 3 minutes.

Heat a skillet with a lid over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil is hot, add quinoa. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes or until quinoa smells toasted. Add 3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring mixture to a boil, cover pan, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Allow to cool if using for a salad.

Combine the vinegar and remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add the arugula, basil, red onion, tomato, cucumber, and bell pepper. Season the vegetables with additional salt and black pepper to taste. Add the quinoa and mix gently. Serve over a bed of baby lettuces. Add cheese, cooked chicken or shrimp—this recipe is extremely flexible.

No comments: