I've been wanting to recreate that side dish. So I made a version of the restaurant dish to go with a salmon fillet. I had no recipe to follow but mine tasted every bit as good as the restaurant's. I will be making this dish again and again. The quinoa had just the right amount of "tooth" to it. This is a hearty side dish and could be a meal in itself. I used spinach in my version because the arugula at the market did not look fresh.
Now, if you are unfamiliar with cooking quinoa, here's a big TIP:
YOU MUST RINSE THE QUINOA under cold running water until the water is no longer cloudy prior to cooking it. Quinoa has a substance on the outside of the seed (did you know it's a seed really and not a grain?) called saponins, that is bitter if not rinsed off. Rinse it well before cooking and make sure you rinse it in a fine mesh strainer. The grains are little and you don't want them to fall through. I have eaten quinoa that was a bit off-tasting and bitter and now I know why.
Best of all, quinoa is good for you. It 's high in magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and iron, as well as being an excellent source of fiber. It's also gluten free. It's known as a super food.
Red, Black and White Warm Quinoa Salad
1 1/2 cups of good chicken stock or broth (unsalted or low salt)
3/4 cup of quinoa (I used a mixture of red, black and white), rinsed well with cold water
2 cups of fresh spinach or arugula leaves, washed and left damp
1/2 cup of chopped yellow onions
1/4 cup of chopped bell pepper (I used an orange one)
1 clove of fresh garlic, chopped
splash of good olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the quinoa under cold water until the water is no longer cloudy, using a fine mesh strainer.
Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil in a saucepan. Add the quinoa and stir. Cover the saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked through. Take the pan off the heat and let it sit, covered, for 15 minutes while you prepare the vegetables. The quinoa needs to steam after cooking, much like rice. After the allotted time, remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Keep it covered and warm for now.
While the quinoa is cooking, add a splash of olive oil to a heavy bottomed large pan. Heat the oil to medium. Add the bell pepper and onion and cook about 10 minutes until the veggies are wilted and golden brown. Add the garlic clove and cook for about 30 seconds. Don't let the garlic brown or it will be bitter.
(This is an untouched photo. Don't you love the bright green of the spinach?)
Add the spinach to the pan and saute it until it is wilted and tender. The water droplets on the leaves will help it to steam a bit and cook down. Sprinkle the spinach with a bit of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
When the spinach is tender and wilted, put the vegetable mixture into a bowl and add the fluffed quinoa and stir gently to combine with the vegetables. Adjust the salt and pepper as needed.
This made about 6 servings.
When summer squash and tomatoes are in season, I think they would make a great addition to this salad.