Quinoa, derived from the Quechua word kinwa is a grain -like plant grown mostly for its edible seeds. It originated in the Andean mountains and was an important crop for the Incas due to its great nutritional value.
While Quinoa looks like a grain and acts like a carb, it actually has an unusually high protein content for a plant. So, another option for protein substitute. It is also gluten-free, so it is a great “carb” option for people suffering from Celiac disease.
I tried quinoa for the first time in Peru this past summer. I don’t know if it was the quinoa or the way it was made, but I was in love. It was one of my favorite dishes from Peru.
I’ve been wanting to replicate the dish. Here’s my first attempt.
The ingredients starting from the top, red pepper, queso fresco, lime, tomatoes, cilantro, olives, red onion, cucumber and quinoa in the center.
Queso fresco in the package in case you’re not familiar with this type of cheese.
The directions are simple, cook quinoa and mix with the other ingredients. A couple of tips for anyone new to quinoa like me. Quinoa cooks pretty quickly so keep your eye on it. Don’t do anything like go watch an absorbing movie and have the pot burn. Um, not that I did that or anything.
1 cup is plenty for 4. It seemed so little since I’m used to cooking 2 cups of rice but 2 cups of quinoa is a lot. Trust me. I can eat quinoa salad every day for the rest of this week a lot. Alrighty then… here’s the recipe.
Peruvian Quinoa Salad
Prep Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 20 mins
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 small cucumber, diced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
4 ounce queso fresco cheese, diced
10 pitted black or kalamata olives, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves only, chopped
3 limes, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium sauce pot, cook quinoa with 2 cups of water until all water is absorbed and let it cool.
Once cool, add the rest of the ingredients and gently mix. Salt and pepper to taste. Simple!