We all know about quinoa, right? The amazing grain that’s not really a grain but a seed. It’s ancient, originated in Peru, and is a complete protein. It shows up on all kinds of lists as a “super food”. And there you have it. The extent of my knowledge about quinoa except for one last thing. It’s delicious.
Not in dip-your-spoon-in-and-take-a-big-mouthful way like, say, chocolate sauce. (Not that I would know anything about that.) All by it’s lonesome, it’s kind of plain. But it absorbs flavors like a pro and is equally at home in lots of different kinds of cuisines. It also has a delightful texture – soft with just the slightest crunch.
This salad is pretty healthy but even if you are not the healthy food loving type, it’s a good one to have in your arsenal. I love having go-to salads like this for things like potlucks and barbecues. It’s vegan and wheat free so just about anyone can eat it. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated and it can be made in advance. The flavors are crowd pleasers – lots of cumin, garlic, and smoked paprika – not to mention grilled zucchini and my beloved chickpeas. If you wanted to add dairy, I think feta cheese or a soft goat cheese would be delicious. Or even crumbles of ricotta salata for something a little different.
One Year Ago: Spring Challenges
Quinoa with Grilled Zucchini, Chickpeas, and Cumin
I cut this out of a magazine but I don’t recognize the font. Since I get Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and Food and Wine, I can assure it’s from one of those. Quinoa generally needs to be rinsed before using so it is not bitter. If you buy Bob’s Red Mill brand, it does not need to rinsed.
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
5 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. tumeric, divided
1 tsp. smoked paprika, divided
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well (if necessary), drained
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, trimmed, quartered lengthwise
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Combine chickpeas and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add 3 tbsp. oil; pressin garlic and stir to combine. Let marinate at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Heat 1 tbsp. oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp. tumeric, and 1/2 tsp paprika; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups water, quinoa, and coarse salt; bring to simmer, sirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Place zucchini on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tbsp. oil. Sprinkle with ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. tumeric, and 1/2 tsp. paprika. Toss to coat evenly.
Place zucchini on grill; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Grill until tender and browned on all sides, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to work surface. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Add zucchini, green onions, and parsley, then chickpea mixture to quinoa. Toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.)