Warm Quinoa & Mushroom Salad

Who would think that such a nondescript, itty-bitty little seed would be one of the healthiest sources of food anywhere?

Quinoa couldn’t be easier to cook and similar to many grains, is easily morphed into many dishes, absorbing and taking on the flavours of whatever you add to it. Add on the fact that it IS a nutritional powerhouse AND the only complete plant-based protein source… so including it in your diet is what they call the ‘no-brainer’. You know I’m a big champion of healthy eating, but as many times as I’ve tried quinoa, I’ve not liked the taste enough to make it a regular in my repertoire. Until now.

The simple act of toasting it before cooking, makes a world of difference. Add in a little chopped onion & minced garlic, and you’ve upped the flavour quotient in a big way. Just think of what rice tastes like, when it’s simply cooked in water.

Good served hot, warm or at room temp, the opportunities to use this a part of starter salad or even main course salad are limitless. Change up the veg you add. Use your faves. Use what’s in your fridge. Keep it vegetarian and you have a fab addition to your meatless Monday line-up.

I will make this again. And again.

For this time, and wanting to use what I had, it was mushrooms, celery and a bit of fennel in the crisper. Wanting to really mix up the texture and temperature I decided on sauteing the mushrooms and adding thin shards of fennel & celery at the end, for a hit of fresh, cool crispness. It really didn’t need much more… just a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Hmmm… Am also now thinking how fab this would be, added to a veggie burger mix.

Warm Quinoa & Mushroom Salad

Keep it vegetarian by using water in the simmering process – but if this isn’t a concern, chicken stock would add even more flavour. Being able to serve this at any temp makes this a great addition to a buffet table, as well as a packed lunch. Serves 2~ Recipe can be easily multiplied for more.

4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced small
1 glove garlic, minced
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup hot water (or chicken stock)
salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
8 oz mushrooms, cremini or button, sliced
Thin shavings of celery or fennel, for serving

In a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, heat half the olive oil over medium low heat.
Add the onion, and saute for several minutes – you don’t want it brown, just starting to soften.
Add the garlic, stirring and after one minute, add the quinoa – cook for about 5 minutes to toast.
Add the water, salt & pepper to taste, and bring to the boil.
Turn down to a simmer and cook for approx 12 minutes, until the quinoa is tender.
Let it sit for 5 minutes off the heat, before serving.
Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in olive oil, until golden brown.
Toss the quinoa in the pan with the cooked mushrooms, absorbing all the flavour.
Turn out onto a pretty plate and top with thin slivers of fennel and/or celery and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

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