In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Isn't the web a wonderful source for cooks? Used to be I hit the recipe books when looking for an inspiration, but when Eldest came home from college her first Christmas, she just kept her laptop in the kitchen for easy reference -- those modern kids!
Today I'm looking for some sort of a salad recipe that uses Quinoa, as I have plenty left over from a meal last week. So forget thumbing thru the old recipe books, most of which don't even have any entries in the index under Q!

First I found a delicious-looking recipe at a fun blog called Tea and cookies, but the ingredients it called for were too summery, and I want to work with what I got in the frig!
Next I came across this Mexican recipe with black beans, lime, cilantro and jalapeno on a website called the Savvy Vegetarian, she says "it's similar to Tabouleh, but quinoa is both heartier and sturdier than couscous. Quinoa black bean salad is a great one dish meal, and also goes well with crusty artisan bread or tortillas chips with salsa, guacamole etc."

Savvy Vegetarian's Mexican Style Quinoa Black Bean Salad
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cooked black beans. If using canned beans, drain and rinse well
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced, OR 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 red pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 large ripe tomato
  • 1 green pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • Dressing:
  • 2 Tblsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Pinch cayenne or chili powder
  • 2 Tblsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • Optional: 1/2 cup sliced olives


  1. The quinoa can be made ahead of time and refrigerated
  2. Soak the quinoa 1/2 hour in cold water
  3. Rinse very thoroughly in water several times. For each rinse, pour off most of the water and finish draining through a large fine mesh strainer
  4. Place in 2 qt pot with 1 1/2 c. water and 1/2 tsp salt
  5. Bring to a boil, turn down to low, cover tightly, and cook for 15 minutes
  6. Remove from heat and allow to sit 5 minutes covered
  7. Fluff gently with a fork and set aside to cool.
  8. Saute jalapeno, fresh garlic, in 2 Tbsp oil until garlic is browned, pepper and celery are softened
  9. Add the green and red peppers and saute briefly
  10. Add the cumin and coriander, cook and stir 5 minutes
  11. Blend dressing ingredients with a whisk or shake in a jar
  12. Gently combine sauteed veggies, tomatoes, black beans, quinoa and dressing in a large bowl
  13. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cilantro and scallions, and serve warm or cover and chill for later

Helpful Quinoa Hints:

  • Quinoa has high oil content, so should be stored in the fridge or freezer to avoid becoming rancid
  • A tight fitting lid is essential for even cooking
  • Quinoa is coated with saponin, which will give it a bitter taste unless you wash it very thoroughly - those tiny flaky bits in the rinse water are the saponin
  • Because of it's high protein and oil content, quinoa is a satisfying meal with a few nuts or beans and veggies added.
Thankyou, SavvyVegetarian, and now back to my own experiment with this meal:

I changed some of the ingredients around, using what I had at hand, but kept the basic premise of the recipe. I substituted garbanzo beans, skipped tomatoes (duh, it's Alaska in March!) but used delicious sweet Alaska carrots, added Sri Ratcha Sauce (a spicy red pepper sauce) and Maggi (ok, only a German understands this one).
The cilantro definitely makes this dish!
I also tried to slice my finger off! Yes, it was stupid -- this is a very vegan dish, after all!
But silly me tried to fancy-cut the carrot julienne-style. Lesson learned: don't be in a hurry with a sharp chef's knife!


  1. Well, this just looks fabulous. Can you use stuff besides quinoa? It's hard to get in Munich.

  2. Sorry, I can't remember the quantities of the ingredients, but things like this can just be thrown together anyway.

    Sweeter Quinoa Salad:

    -rinsed quinoa
    -raisins (or cranberries)
    -scallions (or red onions)
    -canned mandarin oranges
    -orange zest
    -peanuts (or cashews)
    -sesame or other delicate, aromatic oil

    Boil the quinoa in as much water as necessary to make it nice and fluffy (1 quinoa : 2 water ratio, same as rice). Mix in (c)raisins, cover with a lid to let the dried fruit become all soft and steamy. Meanwhile, mince mint and scallions, zest orange, drain mandarins (you could probably also separate orange segments and remove peel- too much work for the industrial kitchen I stole this recipe from). Mix everything into the quinoa. Done!

    Honey Pie Horse: I'd suggest trying out other grains, like amaranth, millet, wild/brown rice, wheat, barley, etc. The important think is that the grains are soft but separate and fluffy when done cooking. Sushi rice or oats are way too goopy.

  3. I tried to make this recipe again recently, but burned my last batch of quinoa (oops, too much blogging!) But since I had some brown rice left over, I just made the recipe with rice, and it turned out fine!