Quinoa is a valuable super food for vegetarians and vegans who are concerned about getting enough protein in their diets. It is the only grain that contains all nine essential amino acids which means less need for food combining. It is also high in lysine, an amino acid necessary for tissue growth and repair. Quinoa has a nutty flavor and is similar to rice in its texture and in the way it cooks. It is lumped in the grain category but it is actually the seed of a leafy plant, related to spinach and swiss chard. You can see what the quinoa plant and harvest looks like here. It comes in both the white version pictured below and red, and lately I have also been seeing a black version.
This salad can be enjoyed as a main course or a side dish. It keeps in the refrigerator for a week, but I would leave out the avocado if you plan to store it that long. The avocado will get brown and you could instead just add a little when you are ready to eat this dish.
Here is how you make it...
3 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and diced small, about 1/2 cup
2 small tomatoes, chopped
3 medium green onions, sliced thinly, white and light green parts only
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 tbsp minced fresh mint
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
fresh cracked pepper, about 6 turns
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 ripe avocado, diced
Cook the quinoa according to package directions. This recipe is best with quinoa that has not been overcooked and is still a little al dente. Make sure to rinse the quinoa before cooking as it contains a natural coating that is a little bitter.
Place the quinoa, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley, mint, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl and lightly toss. Taste for seasoning and add more lime, salt or pepper to taste.
Add chickpeas and avocado and stir to mix again. Serve at room temperature or cold.