Friday, July 29, 2011

Quinoa Salad with Chicken, Apples and Grapes

Quinoa is one of my family's favorite foods.  It is versatile and easy to prepare and so amazingly good for you.  Quinoa contains a set of essential amino acids making it a complete protein.  It is also a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron.  It easy to digest and gluten free.  Best of all, it is delicious!

Last week when some of my family came to over for small low key celebration of my son's 21st birthday I introduced by siblings to quinoa.  Everyone, except for a certain 9 year old that doesn't know what's good, loved it.  Even my ex-husband asked me how to make it and took a small bag of left overs home!

I love that this salad can be served at room temperature or chilled.  It is light and refreshing but satisfying.  Add any fruits or nuts you like, if it sounds good to you it will work with the quinoa.  On it's own, quinoa has a light nutty flavor but takes on the flavor of any broth you cook it in, dressing you mix it with or spices you add to it.

Quinoa Salad with Chicken, Apples and Grapes

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (I used white but red or black is also great)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
3 T olive oil
3 T white wine vinegar
2 cups shredded chicken
1-1/2 grapes, cut in half (I used red for color)
1 large red apple, diced
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 oz crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Place quinoa in a fine wire strainer and run under running water until rinse water runs clear.  It is VERY important to rinse the quinoa because it will be bitter it you don't.  I have purchased Bob's Red Mill Quinoa which is rinsed (it is indicated on the package) and have had it turn out fine, but I highly recommend rinsing it just to be sure.

Combine the chicken stock and water in a pot that will hold 4 times the amount of dry quinoa you are cooking.  Bring liquid to a boil, stir in the quinoa, lower heat to medium low and cover pot with a lid.  Cook quinoa for 15-20 minutes until tender and fluffy.  When the quinoa is done cooking it will be soft but not mushy and may look like it has a thin tail wrapped around it.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  

Place the quinoa in a large bowl.  In a small bowl combine the olive oil and white wine vinegar with a whisk.  Pour dressing over quinoa and mix well to evenly distribute.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the chicken, grapes, apples and green onions.  Stir.  Add Gorgonzola cheese and stir again to evenly distribute the cheese.   Add the almonds and toss salad once more.  Serve chilled or room temperature.

Serves 4-6

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