I'm still trying to drop the holiday pounds, so it's the Paleo diet for me. That means no basmati rice, my chosen accompaniment to Thai dishes. Last night I made a favorite dish, Thai New York Strip Steaks with Lime Sauce (http://terrygruggen.blogspot.com/2011/06/grilled-thai-new-york-strip-steaks-with.html). So I wanted something that alluded to the texture of rice, but was a whole lot healthier.
My pantry held the answer...quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah"). Quinoa looks like a whole grain, but it is actually an edible seed. It is classified as a chenopod, which puts it in the same family as beetroots and spinach. A source of complete protein, it's also a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorous, magnesium and iron.
This salad is amazingly simple. You basically cook up a cup of quinoa, chill it and then throw in some veggies. You can certainly follow my list of vegetables, but feel free to add or substitute your own favorites. The crowning aspect of this salad is the vinaigrette, which I consider to be the finest salad dressing on Planet Earth. Not since the pre-dawn of man, when the first single-cell organism crawled out of the primordial soup, has anything ever tasted this good.
Now I used this recipe as the basis for a side dish. But it is very easy to turn this into an entree salad by adding some shredded crab, diced lobster or slices of grilled chicken breast. If you choose to serve this as an entree salad, it will make two servings. If you serve it as a side dish, this recipe will make four servings.
For the Salad
1 cup quinoa
2 cups of water
1/2 English cucumber, seeded and diced
4 scallions, whites and greens sliced in 1/4" pieces
1/2 cup grated or chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped red cabbage
For the Greatest Vinaigrette Ever
1/2 cup fish sauce (Red Boat preferred)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup sugar
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and stem removed and finely minced
- Put 1 cup of quinoa in a pot along with 2 cups of water. Turn heat on high. When it comes to a boil, cover pot and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from stove, fluff with a fork and then chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Make vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until sugar has dissolved.
- Put chilled quinoa in a salad bowl. Add veggies. Whisk vinaigrette and add half to salad. Toss to mix and add more vinaigrette to taste. Serve.
Wine pairing: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc was made for this dish. If you prefer a red wine, try Rombauer Zinfandel.