We had a house full of people last night and I made my very favorite salad, which gave me yet another opportunity to go through a familiar song and dance: "What is this stuff?" (Quinoa.) "Where do you get it?" (Grocery store, rice section, top shelf, red box.) "How do you cook it?" (Like rice.) "May I have the recipe?" (Um, no recipe really...just wing it and see how it turns out.)
This final answer always fails to satisfy, so for the benefit of my favorite salad's adoring fans, here I offer my method for making Quinoa Salad:
Put two cups of quinoa and four cups of water in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Cover and simmer for around 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool thoroughly. (I'm always in a hurry, so I set the pan in a big bowl of ice and stir occasionally to get it to cool.)
Chop a big bunch of fresh cilantro, about half a large red onion, some celery, one or two large bell peppers or pimento peppers (I like to use one red and one yellow pepper to make it colorful), and a large cucumber (peeled and seeded). Toss in a big salad bowl. Add a handful of raisins or currants, some small cherry tomatoes, and whatever other fresh veggies you like. Stir in the cooled quinoa. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, the juice of two lemons, sugar (a tablespoon or two depending on how sweet you like your salads), and olive oil (start with a few tablespoons and add more to taste). Stir it all together and chill thoroughly, then taste and adjust the seasonings.
It's a little different every time I make it, but one thing never changes: the whole song-and-dance that starts with "What is this stuff" and ends with "May I have some more?"