A Month of Side Dishes: Red Quinoa Corn Salad
December is BlogHer's Month of Side Dishes, and we want you to share your favorite side! Click here to see how to play along. And check out all the sides we're craving in the Month of Side Dishes series.
Have you heard of red quinoa? My friend Janet introduced me to this seed crop from the Andes where ancient Incas revered it and referred to quinoa as the "Mother of all Grains". It is a high protein, high fiber "grain" similar to oats in that it has all 20 essential amino acids nutritionally important for humans. Best of all, it's easily digestible and gluten-free so it's a boon to people with difficulties digesting gluten.
We found red quinoa on sale for less than $3 a pound at a bulk organic food outlet. It was a bargain considering a pack of eight 16 oz pouches can cost about $40. If you soak it for a few minutes before boiling, it cooks faster and swells up and 1 cup of uncooked quinoa is enough for two people. I really like its mild nutty flavor that goes well with corn and cilantro and a light vinegar dressing. Here is a yummy, nutritious and easy side dish that can be prepared ahead of time and served at room temperature.
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup drained, sweet corn kernels (add more if you wish)
finely chopped cilantro
about 1 T seasoned rice vinegar* (you can adjust the acidity to taste)
Soak red quinoa for about 10 minutes in 2 cups water. Place quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it in running water. This step removes saponins (a mild laxative) and makes it even more digestible. Pre-rinsed quinoa is available too if you prefer to skip this step. Cook quinoa in a rice cooker with 2 cups water or cook covered in a pot at a low simmer for 15-20 minutes till nearly all the water is absorbed and the cooked germ looks like a tiny curl separating from the red seed coat and the cooked "grain". Fluff up the quinoa with a fork and place in a bowl. Add drained sweet corn kernels, cilantro and seasoned rice vinegar. Serve and enjoy!
*One time, we tried balsamic vinegar but it tended to overpower the flavors.