Warm quinoa salad with dried figs and pea greens

 

Quinoa finds its origins in the Andes of Peru where Incas called it the “mother grain” because of its nutritional value. It is not a grain but a pseudocereal (like buckwheat) and it has a high content of protein as well as amino acids, iron, and more! Use it as a substitute for rice and other starches or as a base for salads and pilafs. Those who know me are aware of my love for Quinoa!! Or “Kinwa”, in Quechua :)

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup uncooked Quinoa
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup leek, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ cup figs, cut in quarters lengthwise
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped pea greens*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

* Pea greens can be substituted by finely chopped parsley

Preparation

Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse quinoa well, drain, and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine chicken stock and saffron strands and let stand for 20 minutes. Add quinoa to pan, set on stove at medium-high heat, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let it rest with the lid on.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and sauté for 2 minutes; add minced garlic, peppers, and bay leaves, sauté until vegetables are slightly softened, about 3 additional minutes. Add cumin and figs; season with salt and pepper. Remove and discard bay leaves. Cool mixture slightly.

Fluff quinoa using a fork into a medium bowl; add vegetable mixture, lemon juice, pea greens, and a splash of olive oil, if desired. Toss to coat.

This dish may be served at room temperature or chilled, depending on your preference.

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