So I've been intrigued by quinoa for a while for several reasons:
1) it is spelled way differently than it's actually pronounced (my friend D's technique for remembering the pronunciation is to think of "Joaquin" of "Joaquin Phoenix"-fame and switch the syllables around: "keen-wa"--he is brilliant, yes, especially since I'd been referring to it as "kwi-no-ah" for weeks); and
2) it looks way too much like the little suction cuppy things on the tentacles of octupi:
Thankfully, it doesn't taste anything like them suction cups though!
For about three weeks I've had a box of quinoa sitting in my kitchen waiting to be used, and finally finally finally I was moved into cooking-action upon stumbling across Fat Free Vegan's International Quinoa Salad recipe--as soon as I saw them little octopi-suction cups in her picture, I knew that it was the quinoa recipe I was bound to tackle.
And I must say, there's a lot of chopping of vegetables, but short of that, it's a really simple recipe. The only change I made was to cook the quinoa in my rice cooker at a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa (for this specific recipe, I used 1.5 c. quinoa and 3 c. water). And I used 1/2 t.'s worth of red chili peppers *in adobo sauce* (with the adobo-y-ness rinsed off) due to easy access.
The end result was a delicate and simple (but flavorful) salad with a clean and summery taste, perfect for a picnic or a family barbecue. I definitely think the avocado adds a lot to the dish (the creamy richness contrasts with the clean crisp flavor of the rest of the salad) but it is also a wonderful dish even *without* avocado garnishing it, given all the other contrasts housed within it--between the spicy peppers and the cool mint, the crunchy cucumbers and the softer quinoa. All in all, it's probably one of my favorite dishes I've made in the past few months or so...
THE RECIPE: Fat Free Vegan's International Quinoa Salad
And to top it all off, the box of quinoa I bought has this sweet little booklet in it that offers up recipes (some examples can be found HERE) and gives you about 15 billion different ways to cook it, from braised to quinoa-croquettes to alternatively-colored quinoa. And the recipes are arranged by the season: I got the Fall/Winter booklet this time around, so if you happen to be standing in the grain aisle and see someone fishing through all the boxes of quinoa, looking for the Spring/Summer edition, that'd be me. =)