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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato and Spinach

Quinoa Past and Present

Even though quinoa was a staple in the diet of the Andean people 3,000 years ago in South America, it only become popular again over the last six years or so.  It is so popular these days, that the United Nations declared 2013 as the "International Year of Quinoa".  Contrary to what you might think, quinoa is a seed, not a grain and is in fact a complete protein containing all of the nine essential amino acids.

Quinoa and Diabetes

According to Stacey Hugues, a registered dietician:  "I often recommend using it (quinoa) in place of white rice or pasta.  The extra fiber allows the digestion of carbohydrates to be slowed, assisting with blood sugar control." Yes you will find mixed opinions on the internet but to be quite honest, I like this one so I hope that it's right.

The Recipe

In April, when my husband and I were in Italy, we met up with my sister in law and her husband who travelled all the way from Australia. At this special meeting one of the presents that we were showered with was the "Quinoa for Families" cookbook by Rena Patten.  This recipe is my adaptation of one of the recipes in the book and has been a real hit in my house especially with my 19 year old vegetarian twins.  The original recipe called for mushrooms (despised by my twins) and dijon mustard ( despised by me).  I did not replace the mushrooms but I did replace the mustard with Silan/date honey. Yummarooney!

Ingredients

1kg (2 lb 4 oz) sweet potato
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
3/4 cup quinoa (the original recipe calls for red quinoa--to date I've only used white but only because that's what they sell at our supermarket)
1 1/2 cups water
200 g (7 oz) baby spinach leaves
1 red onion haved and thinly sliced

Dressing

2 Tbsp Date honey 
juice of 1-2 lemons
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground blck pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180 C(350 F) and line a tray with non-stick baking paper.
Peel and cube sweet potato, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss well and place on the baking tay in a single layer.
Roast in the over for 20-30 minutes until sweet potato is tender and crisp.
In the meantime place the quinoa in a small pot with the water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes until all the water is bsorbed.  Remove from heat and cool.
Place sweet potato, quinoa, spinach and onion in a bowl and gently toss together until combined.
Mix together all dressing ingredients, pour over salad and gently toss. Leave to stand for about 1/2 hour before serving.


Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4-8 (depends on if you serve it as a main course or as a side dish)