Friday, April 17, 2015

Vegan Quinoa and Brown Rice Fiesta Salad

Quinoa is one of my favorite South American foods.  At least 3000 BCE or more quinoa was cultivated on Peruvian, Bolivian and Colombian soil, the main food source of the time was quinoa.  I feel badly for South Americans because to have to survive off of quinoa, which is virtually flavorless, must have been a difficult life having to rely on the cultivation of quinoa for every meal.  It must have been a hardship for those that historically struggled.  Quinoa alone is very bland.  In order to enjoy and appreciate this savory South American staple, there are many ways that quinoa can be jazzed up a notch and increase the flavor.  Quinoa can be absolutely delicious and a treat for royalty.  With a little more flavor, quinoa tastes out of this world.  I'm going to show you the way I add flavor to my quinoa.

Vegan Quinoa and Brown Rice Fiesta Salad

2 1/2 cups of boiled water
1/2 cup Quinoa
1/2 cup Brown Rice
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 cup Green Onion
1/4 cup Red Onion
1/4 cup Cilantro
3/4 cup canned Shoepeg White Corn
1 cup canned Black Beans
Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

I set out all of my ingredients.  I bought a blended package of quinoa and brown rice.  Sometimes this works best, if not the ingredients of quinoa and brown rice can be bought separately.  Shoepeg Corn is very light and delicate and so are the black beans.  I have my raw ingredients of green onion, red onion, and cilantro.

I poured 2 1/2 cups of water into a pan and set it to High so that it will boil quickly.

I added 1 cup of blended quinoa and brown rice.  If you have bought these ingredients separately, it will be a half cup of quinoa and a half cup of brown rice (1 cup total either way).

After this, I rinsed the quinoa and brown rice.  The quinoa has to be rinsed first because quinoa seeds are surrounded by a soapy flavored resin called saponin.  I have rinsed the quinoa twice.  The hardest part about rinsing quinoa is that the particles are so small that some of them go down the drain.  I tried to be extra careful, but I'm sure I lost a few seeds when I strained the quinoa.

Now that the quinoa and brown rice have been strained, I'm going to add it to my pan.

I let the quinoa and brown rice warm up. 

I add a little salt.  

I sliced and diced my red onion and my green onions.

The water is slowly evaporating from my quinoa and brown rice. 

After the quinoa and brown rice cooked down, the peel of the quinoa will start to curl and fall off.  That is one of the many ways to tell if it is cooked.  Also, taste it.  Cooked quinoa will be grainy, but not nutty.  If it is still a little more firm, cook it longer.  My brown rice and quinoa finish cooking about the same time.  I advise watching both to make sure that neither is undercooked or over cooked.

After I remove the quinoa and brown rice from the heat,  I drained the water.  Once the water was strained,  I let the quinoa and brown rice mix sit for about 10 minutes.  I took a few minute break and went outside to smell the fresh air.  I sat down on the patio and waited for a minute. 

I returned to cooking ready to mix it all up.  I had all my ingredients prepped.  I added the green onions first.

I added my red onions next. 

I warmed up the black beans and shoepeg corn on the stove top.  I added a little water and put them on Medium heat.  I wanted to mix these last because each of them are very delicate.  I wanted to carefully stir them, not mash them.

After the black beans and corn finished cooking, I added them to the mixing bowl. 

I stirred all of the ingredients together. 

Hmm Mmm... This looks delicious, but something is missing.

Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

One more thing I like, and this will really kick up the flavor, cilantro, my favorite. 

Stir in the fresh cilantro to give the quinoa a flavor boost.

I served mine in a small bowl, and this was about the right portion, unless you really love Vegan Quinoa and Brown Rice Fiesta Salad, then trade it for a larger bowl.  I think this was just right.  The flavor is spot on.  Nicole promised me that she would try some and that she would go Vegan (please, as if).  I tried to see if she would just eat the brown rice and quinoa, but no, that was an utter failure.  This recipe is not kid approved; however, it is adult approved.  I think it's flavorful, healthy.  It was satisfying, and I would recommend making it at home to anyone.

Until next time, keep reading.

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