Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a grain as ancient as the Incas themselves, who held this crop to be sacred.
For more than six thousand years, it has been an important complete food, called “the mother of all grains” for its superhigh protein content. I always have cooked quinoa on hand to add to salads and soups, or to serve as a side dish. Here it serves as the perfect backdrop for the bold flavors of olive and red onion.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil
½ medium red onion, diced
½ cup diced red bell pepper
¾ cup green olives, halved and pitted
3 tablespoons lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Place the quinoa in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat so that the mixture simmers. Cover and cook until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the salt and pepper, and set aside.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes, and then add the bell pepper. Continue cooking until the bell pepper has softened, about 3 minutes. Add the olives, stirring well to combine, and cook for 1 minute more.
Stir the sautéed vegetables into the quinoa. Add the lemon juice, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the cumin, and cilantro. Toss well to combine. Serve the quinoa warm, at room temperature, or cold.
The quinoa can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.