Quinoa Salad Boats with Guacamole

Quinoa Salad Boats with Guacamole

Quinoa is one of the most healthy grains in this world ūüôā

Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.

I love this salad on any given day and the best thing is my kids eat it all up when I serve with a creamy guacamole.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa

5 Cloves of chopped garlic

1 can of black beans

1 small onion chopped

1 jalapeno chopped -optional

1/2 cup chopped zucchini

1/2 tsp turmeric

salt to taste

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp cayenne

Evoo

For Guacamole:

1/2 onion chopped

1 avocado mashed up (save the outer skin of the avocados)

lemon juice from 1 lemon

Cilantro for garnish

salt to taste

Preparation:

For Avocado Salad Boats:

This is such a forgiving recipe that you can add any veggies you like to it. Take a pan and add 1 tsp of EVOO and transfer the chopped garlic, onion, jalapeno and zucchini. Mix well and saute with salt, turmeric and curry powder. Add in the rinsed black beans and mix well for about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup quinoa and toast for 3-4 minutes and mix. Now add 1 cup of water to the pan with all the ingredients and let it cook uncovered for about 10 minutes till all water evaporates. If quinoa seems uncooked, add another 1/2 cup water and let it cook uncovered. You want to cover it for the last 3 minutes with a lid so the quinoa turns out fluffy. Keep aside.

Cooked Quinoa with black beans, jalapenos, onions and zucchini

For Guacamole:

Take a bowl. Add mashed guacamole with salt and lemon juice and mix well to a creamy pulp. Then transfer chopped onions, salt to taste and garnish with Cilantro.

Plating:

For plating, transfer quinoa salad into the outer skins of avocados and place these boats with guacamole.

Best moments from my cooking demo at Whole Foods in Montclair

Best moments from my cooking demo at Whole Foods in Montclair

I must begin by saying that I had the most wonderful time cooking for such a wonderful crowd at Whole Foods at Montclair in NJ yesterday.

Carmen, the lead for cooking demos at the store was such a cheerful person and helped me out completely with the set up of my station and making me feel like I was at my home kitchen:) Evelyn ran every single time to get stuff whenever I ran out of sampling plates or spoons. I dont remember stopping for a single minute to even drink a sip of water. I was completely in my zone once people started coming in and thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it that I dint want to miss any of it:)

So what did I cook? I had exchanged several emails with Carmen before coming up with this menu. Knowing Montclair and its residents, I knew QUINOA was one of my choices. A lot of people came up to me with difficulty pronouncing Quinoa and I had to break it up for them as¬†(pronounced as K-i-N-WAH) ūüôā

I decided to go for a Quinoa Salad. One, the reason being -Tuesdays at Whole Foods is Local Tasting meaning I was asked to make the best use of as much as local produce that was at the store. I instantly felt like a kid in a candy store- especially if you ask a vegetarian like me to pick local produce/veggies!!!!

The second reason being- Quinoa is a grain-like crop grwon for its edible seeds and is a complete protein as per nutritional evaluations. Quinoa high in dietary fiber, phosphorous, magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also a source of calicium and is popular amongst vegans and for those who are lactose intolerant. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest.

I decided to incorporate as much veggies possible, like zucchini, summer squash, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers…..and made a Quinoa Salad.¬†Of course I sauted my onions, tomatoes, zucchini and squash with my special blend of freshly toasted and ground Indian spices! or freshly ground “curry” powder.

My demo was to start at 3 pm but I reached the store early so I have enough time to set up and start cooking the Quinoa. Carmen said the expected crowd between 3 and 6pm on a Tuesday at Whole Foods was about 150!!!! So I cooked for that many :))))

I had this huge pot that was simmering away with my Quinoa and veggies in it. I had just begun making my sauce- I wanted to make an Indian curried sauce to layer on top of the quinoa to take the salad to a next level.  Meantime, I saw many people approaching my station and urging me to make samplers. Being the person I am, I started making samplers of just the Quinoa while working on the making that sauce at the same time. I was so happy to hear wonderful comments from people who merely tasted the Quinoa with veggies. A lot of them said, they got the package of quinoa but when they took it home and tried cooking it- it was dry or that they werent able to get the proportion of quinoa versus water right.

A simple trick is- I never follow package instructions because it always says 1: 1!!!!! No way- you will end up with a plate of undercooked quinoa. Always, add extra broth or water to check  if the quinoa is cooked completely. You know its done is when all the grains have turned from white to transparent, and the spiral-like germ has separated. Also, while cooking the Quinoa always try and keep it covered or use a lid to cover.

Now I make my sauce with garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes and my freshly ground spices. I layer the Curried sauce over the Quinoa. I wanted to use a layer of crunch on top of the sauce so I used Organic Tempeh from Whole Foods and crumbled it, seasoned it well with cumin, coriander and “curry powder”. I saute the crumbled tempeh with a tad bit of oil in a pan till it gets a crisp coat on the surface. Now Tempeh is a meat substitute made of Soy and is very high in protein.

So I layer my sauted crumbled tempeh over my curried sauce and quinoa with veggies. I garnish the whole dish with some green scallions, colored bell peppers and some tomatoes and top it off with some cilantro!

A lot of you them who stopped by my station asked me if I sold the Sauce in a jar and they wanted to buy it:)LOL

But I promised them, I will look into it- its a possibility I would explore!!!!

They loved my sauce and the dish and were very encouraging and  appreciative,

All the kind words, words of encouragement and love is what motivates me so keep it coming guys…..can never get enough!!!

Thanks much to my friend Rob and his sister April Peters for coming out, tasting my dish and being so supportive!

Thanks again to every single person who came out to Whole Foods, and stopped by my station to taste my dish-Appreciate your time and I hope I was able to answer every one of your questions on the dish and otherwise…..

(This pic was taken at the end of the cooking demo at 6pm and I am exhausted, struggling to smile for the camera but my husband and kids came to pick me up and I was thrilled to see them !!!!Thanks so much for being so supportive!)

With much love ……. and looking forward to more events so keep tuning into my blog for updates on events and where to find me:)

Quinoa topped with almonds and jalape√Īos & a chilled Pomegranate Raita

Quinoa topped with almonds and jalape√Īos & a chilled Pomegranate Raita

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I am trying to get my husband to eat healthy!¬†In India, rice is staple and we eat rice every single day.¬†So I am trying various healthy options like quinoa/ cous cous/ bulgur wheat. These are great options for rice if you are a rice lover. Today I made healthy and simple dinner for us. Quinoa¬†saut√©ed with onion, tomatoes, topped with almonds and jalape√Īos, toasted cumin, garnished with cilantro and but ofcourse my favorite- a pinch of GARAM MASALA. Yum!
I also made some Pomegranate Raita. Raita is nothing but a dish made out of chilled yoghurt to cool off the spices in any dish. The flavors from the quinoa and the tanginess of the Pomegranate is PERFECTTTTT!
Definitely try this one and you will never regret:)

Nutritional Facts:

QUINOA has a high protein value of 18% and unlike wheat/ rice has a balanced set of essential amino acids as well.

POMEGRANATE contains no cholesterol or saturated fats. It is rich source of soluble and insoluble dietary fibers and is suggested in the diet for weight reduction and cholesterol controlling programs. Regular inclusion of fruits in the diet helps protect from colon cancers. The fruit contains an anti oxidant punicalagin which is effective in reducing heart disease risk factors. It is also good source of antioxidant Vitamin-C. Regular consumption of pomegranate has also been found to be effective against prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), diabetes, and lymphoma. It is also good source of many vital B-complex group of vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), folates, pyridoxine and vitamin K, and minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, and manganese.