Quinoa is increasing in popularity due to its excellent nutritional qualities. It is gluten-free and one of the only vegetarian complete proteins out there. A complete protein is a food which contains all 9 of the essential amino acids which our body cannot create itself and needs to get from food. Amino acids are used by the body for virtually every bodily task. Animal protein is a complete protein but most vegetarian proteins are incomplete – except for quinoa.
Quinoa is largely grown in Peru, which is what inspired me to combine it with traditional Peruvian ingredients – sweet potatoes, beans (lima or black beans) and cumin are used frequently in Peruvian dishes. Quinoa is inexpensive, easy to store, and as simple to prepare as rice. It has a mild flavor that adapts well to many dishes.
To learn more about Quinoa, have a look at ‘Quinoa: 5 Great Reasons Why You Should Be Eating It’.
QUINOA AND SWEET POTATO SALAD WITH CUMIN-LIME DRESSING
(Serves 6 as a side salad)
1 Tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
Generous pinch of sea salt
100g (3/4 cup) dried lima (butter) beans or black beans (or 200g cooked)
1 cup / 200 ml dried quinoa (or 3 cups cooked)
1&1/2 cups boiling water
300-350g sweet potato
1 fresh jalapeno chilli pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
- Sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 2-inch pieces. Place in an oven-proof dish, toss with some olive oil and a touch of sea salt, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes (stirring half way through). Check that they are cooked through, and then allow to cool.
- Beans: Soak 100g of dried beans in water overnight. I find that soaking them for a few hours in freshly boiled water just before cooking does as good a job as an overnight soak. Boil the beans in a pot of simmering water for 20-45 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Quinoa: Measure out 1 cup of quinoa and rinse it well. Quinoa can be difficult to rinse because a lot of it floats to the top, so my favorite way of rinsing it is by putting the quinoa in a fine mesh colander and placing the colander in a larger bowl. Place the bowl with the colander in it into the sink and run water over it. This allows you to rinse the quinoa and then raise the colander up out of the bowl to easily drain it. Rinse the quinoa well in 2-3 changes of water and drain. Prepare the quinoa according to the instructions on the packaging. I put 1 cup of quinoa and 1&1/2 cups kettle-boiled water into a pot and allow it to simmer (covered) for 15 minutes, followed by 5 minutes off the heat (covered), and then fluff it with a fork. Allow it to cool by spreading on a plate.
- Jalapeno: Deseed and chop 1 jalapeno chilli pepper.
- Dressing: Prepare the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients together in a jar and shaking well.
- Once all the ingredients are cool, combine the beans, quinoa, sweet potato, jalapeno, and dressing in a salad bowl and toss well.
- Refrigerate and serve within 24 hours.