This week, let’s talk about something completely wonderful: quinoa! Also, let me tell you how I created this delicious little dressing that goes perfectly with a little quinoa, on a bed of your favorite fresh lettuce. Ahhh…heaven in a dish!
Quinoa is wonderful for so many reasons. Quinoa is native to South America and is so nutrient-dense, it was once called “the gold of the Incas”. Often referred to as a grain, it is actually the seed of a leafy green cousin to spinach and Swiss chard. One of the most amazing properties of quinoa is that this little seed is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential 9 amino acids which form a protein. This makes it an excellent plant-based source of protein all on its own, whereas getting a complete protein from most beans would require combining it with whole grain rice, for example. It also contains plenty of other nutrients such as fibre, magnesium, and phosphorus. Since it is “wheat-free”, it can form part of a satisfying meal for those who want to avoid gluten.
I am a huge fan of quinoa (have you noticed?) and make several dishes with it. This week, I’d like to tell you about a tasty dressing I created for quinoa and lettuce. I call it “The Josephine” after a delightful student of mine who took my vegan cooking course at McGill University. She asked me if I had any ideas for making a dressing using tahini, which would not have that slightly bitter aftertaste common for tahini.
Tahini is a nutritious, tasty spread, popular in Middle Eastern dishes. We used it a few weeks ago when we made my Healthy Hummus. It is made from ground sesame seeds and is rich in B vitamins and calcium. Tahini can be added to recipes or simply used as a spread on toast, crackers, in a sandwich or on vegetables. I love tahini just as much as I love quinoa and use both often in my kitchen!
I put my chef’s hat on and got to work in the kitchen! My first challenge was: how do I sweeten the tahini a little? I immediately thought of adding tamari and balsamic vinegar. Then I figured a fresh or dried fruit would work nicely in adding a hint of fruity sweetness, so I pulled out my organic dried apricots. I, of course, wanted some garlic in the here to balance out the flavours and for a last extra little kick, I chopped fresh ginger! I whisked up the dressing, along with some olive oil, oregano and sea salt. I poured it over my cooked quinoa, which had time to cool and chose my favorite fresh lettuce: arugula. I sprinkled the small pieces of apricot, hemp, chia and flax seeds over top and tried a forkful. OK, WOW! So delicious! You MUST try this! Thank you Josephine for your inspiration and for this challenge!
Enjoy, in joy and in health!
1 cup quinoa, cooked in 1 ½ cups water, cooled
2 cups raw baby kale OR lettuce of your choice
2 tablespoons Tahini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon wheat-free Tamari
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon oregano
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 small piece ginger, finely chopped
5 dried apricots OR 2 fresh apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1. Place 1 cup quinoa and 1 ½ cup water in a pot and allow to boil. Once it boils, lower heat to minimum or simmer and continue cooking until all water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
2. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the dressing, except seeds and pieces of apricot. Whisk dressing until completely blended.
3. In a large bowl, place cooled quinoa on a bed of raw baby kale or any lettuce or combination of lettuce leaves that you desire. Drizzle dressing over top. Sprinkle seeds and pieces of apricot.
“If I sing when I cook, the food will be happy.” ~Pasquale Carpino