The Two Faces of Quinoa Salad.

Quinoa salad. It’s a go-to for most people today. Summer parties, spring gatherings, winter sees sweet potatoes added, fall shindigs, it’s there for us every season. Of course America doesn’t grow it themselves, they’ve got Bolivia and Peru to do it for them, right? Those two countries together produce 99% of the quinoa imported into the U.S., while commercial production of it in the states remains under 10,000 pounds a year. Quinoa has been hand in hand with maize in South American diets for hundreds of years, dating back to 1200AD, when the Incan Empire began to emerge. The problem with quinoa today is that global interest has increased so much that Peru and Bolivia are exporting more to the increasingly greedy mouths of Westerners, specifically Americans. The price then rises in those countries, taking away cheap access to a traditional food that provides 5grams of protein per serving, along with significant amounts of manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, fiber, folate, and zinc.

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A venn diagram of ingredients to see what overlapped from the traditional and modern day recipes.

Its popularity isn’t all bad though. Quinoa is a great building block of any meal, and your body will thank you for filling it with a substance that will nourish it. The resurgence of this ancient grain shows that there is hope for traditional food knowledge, whether it be in South or North America. I took it upon myself to look at two specific Quinoa salad recipes, one from a modern day cookbook, Thug Kitchen, which is my personal favorite, and one from a traditional cookbook, calledย Foods of the Americas.ย Originally I wanted to see if the traditional recipe called for any specific ingredients that one wouldn’t be able to find in just any mainstream grocery store, but the most “out there” ingredient was hominy, which is just dried maize kernels that have been treated with alkali. I did my best to buy organically grown ingredients for both of the recipes. The food preparation was more extensive with the Roasted Beet, Kale, and Quinoa Salad fromย Thug Kitchen,ย so I threw on a giant pot of quinoa to boil and began chopping away. When all was said and done, I had cooked 3 cups of quinoa. As a person who regularly consumes and cooks quinoa, trust me, that’s A LOT of quinoa.

At the end of all the cooking, I left out both salads for my roommates to taste. The general consensus was that the Thug Kitchen recipe was better. Personally, I’ve eaten that salad so many times I welcomed the change of flavors with open arms. That, and I really like hominy. It was also fun to incorporate my roommates taste buds into this project, and teach them a little about hominy…it’s not normally found in our pantry.ย IMG_0516

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Dry ingredients for the Thug Kitchen version: Salt, Pepper, Dijon Mustard, White Balsamic, and Coconut Oil. Dry ingredients for the Food of the Americas Version: Salt, Pepper, Vinegar, Olive Oil, Hominy.

 

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Ingredients that grow (Thug Kitchen): Basil, Shallots, Beets, Kale. Ingredients that grow (Food of the Americas): Garlic, Lime, Tomato, Red Bell Pepper, Mint, Cilantro (I used Parsley).
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Step 1 (Thug Kitchen): Chop the beets.
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I never peel my beets, I think the outer skin adds flavor and nutrients.

 

 

 

 

 

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Salted, peppered, balsamic-ed, and oil-ed. Put the beets in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
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Your hands will look like you just made tie-dye post beet chopping. Roll with it.

 

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While the beets were in the oven, I started on the dressing. 3 tablespoons oil, one shallot, 3 tablespoons of white balsamic, and 1 teaspoon of dijon.
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Diced shallots.
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I did this in a mason jar, to make mixing more easy, aka, I shook it all up.
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20 minutes later, the beets were done and looking delicious!
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Quinoa ready to go!
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Before adding the beets, I chopped the kale and added it to the cooked quinoa.
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Basil chopped and ready.
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Post dressing and basil additions.
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Step 1 (Food of the Americas): Chop the tomato.
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Step 2: Chop the mint.
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Step 3: Darin and rinse the hominy.
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Step 4: Cut and squeeze the lime.
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Step 5: Mix it all with the quinoa!
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Left: Food of the Americas’ Quinoa Salad. Right: Thug Kitchen’s Roasted Beet, Kale, and Quinoa Salad.
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The food scraps. Normally I would save the beet greens, but I go through major periods of loving them and not loving them, and right now I’m in a not loving them phase.

 

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