Another Friday, another French Friday with Dorie, and this week we made quinoa. I didn’t know what quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wha) was until a few years ago. For the first few years after that, I thought it was pronounced Ke-NO-Ah. Quinoa is a wonderful, healthy grain to make part of your regular diet. But the problem is that if you don’t know what it is, or how to pronounce it, you probably aren’t ordering it off the menu. At the university where I work, quinoa is available every day at one of the eateries on campus. In fact, dining services does a wonderful job producing plenty of healthy options, I go crazy for their roasted beet and goat cheese salad – it is amazing. But the number one order by students on campus isn’t any of these healthy treats, it is a half and half. A half and half means your plate is half full with fries, and the other half with chicken fingers. The students order it because it is quick (they always have it ready in the fryer) affordable, and plentiful. One of the issues that has been discussed on campus this year is that it is one thing to have healthy food available to students, and another thing to have healthy food easily approachable to students. Grains like quinoa and barley are a great option to pack in nutrition in a variety of ways. I’m glad this was part of our French Fridays with Dorie recipe today, because I want to do my part to make quinoa a “regular” food in my region. This is my first time making quinoa from scratch, so I’m once again grateful for FFwD for pushing me outside my limits.
I purchased Bob Red's Mill Quinoa, and it states that it is rinsed and dried, so that the consumer doesn't have to rinse it before cooking. That was good news to me, because my sieve would have let the quinoa slip right through, they're so tiny uncooked. Cooking the quinoa was very simple, and similar to cooking couscous.
For the salad Dorie has us mix in dried fruits, and our choice of a nut and seed assortment. For the dried fruit I used a bag that contained dried cherries, cranberries, apricots, apples, raisins and golden raisins. For the nuts and seeds, I made a mix of pepitas, sunflower seeds, almonds, and a little flax seed (milled flax seed because I grabbed the wrong package, oops!). In the future, I'll skip the sunflower seeds, I felt like they stood out, where the rest of my nuts and seeds blended in well. There was a simple dressing to this that came together quickly.
I chose to skip the optional bed of greens. I was hesitant with the yogurt topping at first, but dolloped more on later. This was good the night of, and worked great for lunch the next day. The dried fruit rehydrated some, and tasted even better on day two. I think this would make a great lunch, or picnic side. But for a Tuesday night dinner after a long day of work, when the cold of winter had returned to the Midwest, it left me craving something warm and comforting instead of a cool grain salad. At that moment I understood why our students go for the chicken fingers over the quinoa.
This was one of those dishes that opens itself up to lots of adaptations, I can't wait to see what everyone did on the LYL for French Fridays with Dorie!