This is the typical response I get from my children when preparing quinoa at home: keen-what? After a recent restaurant experience with quinoa, I ran to the grocery store and bought a bag of red organic quinoa. (There must be cheaper options out there because $7 for a small bag of quinoa seems steep. But my stomach was driving this purchase, and when I’m hungry, my wallet knows no bounds.)
I don’t know that explaining what quinoa is made this dish any more appetizing to my little foodies, but looking up the details certainly educated me. Quinoa is actually a seed and is related to “beets, spinach and tumbleweed.” Pretty sure that last one won’t be used in any marketing materials. But this seed seems to be a super food because it’s packed with protein, amino acids and fiber (thank you Wikipedia). And I love the texture, which is like a softened grainy crunch.
In a tiny local tapas place, this is the dish that inspired me: Red Quinoa and Poached Apple with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette. You know how sometimes you can taste a meal by just reading a recipe? That was my experience with this small plate. The contrasting textures of the soft apple and crunchy quinoa mixed with a smooth yet tart dressing captured my imagination as I read it on the menu. And the real thing didn’t disappoint, except for the fact I had to share it with three others.
Starting with only the memory of my taste buds, here’s a close re-creation of the dish. It wasn’t an exact replica, but good enough to elicit thumbs up from my taste-tasting guests.
Red Quinoa with Poached Apple
by Foodie Plus 4
- 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved and cored
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 cup dried red quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1 apple (any kind), peeled and diced
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries (substitute dried currants, raisins or cherries)
- handful of mâche, watercress or other delicate green
- sea salt and pepper
- Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place cider and apples (cut-side down) in shallow baking dish. Cover tightly with foil. Cook for 20 – 25 minutes until fork tender. Uncover, drain, and set aside to cool.
- Add quinoa and water, along with dash of salt and pepper, to a pot and simmer according to package directions (my package said bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes).
- When cooked, transfer quinoa to a large bowl and let cool.
- Make the vinaigrette (see recipe link).
- Mix in diced apple, dried fruit, and red onion. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve atop one half apple. Garnish with greens, and drizzle with vinaigrette. (I find the flavors in this dish are best at room temperature.)
- Serves 4 adults.