I love my grains, and quinoa would be at the top of that list. Not only is quinoa an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has an incredibly delicious, nutty, and slightly crunchy texture, but it is also available year round in local stores (Whole Foods, Safeway, Trader Joes, you name it!). And believe it or not, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard! It is a recently rediscovered ancient “grain” that was once considered “the gold of the Incas.” I don’t know about comparing it to gold, but after doing some research, I found out that quinoa is also a very good source of manganese (basically a great antioxidant).
If you aren’t sold on quinoa yet (and more specifically, the red variety), try out the below recipe and I promise you will be a quinoa-convert! 🙂 The creaminess of the avocado, paired with the ripe sweetness of the mango and crunchy jicama makes for an unforgettable dish with so much to offer in every bite. And for those of you that aren’t familiar or comfortable with ‘jicama’ (a.k.a. Mexican Yam or Mexican Turnip), don’t worry! You can omit it and/or substitute pear or apple chunks. Although, I love the crunchiness that the jicama adds to this salad – any root vegetable that you enjoy eating raw can be used for a similar taste too.
Yields: 4 servings
1 cup red quinoa, rinsed – I buy mine from Trader Joe’s, it comes dry, in a box!
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 avocados, skin removed and cubed (or 1 cup of cubed avocado)
1 large mango, peeled and cubed (or 1 cup of cubed mango)
1 cup jicama, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (optional) – or you can use toasted pine nuts/pignolias
1/4 cup fresh parsley, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
fresh black pepper, to taste
Cook the red quinoa as directed on box with water or broth of your choice (for added flavor).
When the quinoa is cooked, add the extra-virgin olive oil. Let it cool (can refrigerate overnight, if desired).
When it is cool, add in the remaining ingredients. Remember to taste test and serve!
Variations: spread the quinoa on a plate and top with the ‘salsa’ part of this dish (remaining ingredients) for a different presentation. You can also add cooked crab meat or shredded rotisserie chicken (making it non-vegetarian, of course), roasted corn, black beans, chopped red onions, cilantro. Feel free to get creative with this dish! 🙂