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

[click here to print]

  • 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
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. When cooked, transfer quinoa to a large bowl and let cool.
  5. Make the vinaigrette (see recipe link).
  6. Mix in diced apple, dried fruit, and red onion. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve atop one half apple. Garnish with greens, and drizzle with vinaigrette. (I find the flavors in this dish are best at room temperature.)
  8. Serves 4 adults.

2 thoughts on “keen-what?

  1. Sounds like another winner. I didn’t know quinoa “came in red” too. Have only experienced the natural looking color…but love that with lots of lemon. Will give this one a try. Thanks.

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