Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Going up in Smoke!

Insalata di Quinoa con la Paprika Affumicata Spagnola
Quinoa Salad with Spanish Smoked Paprika

So many new things for me to try out this week- and so little time! But you know what- I am doing my best- hehe! There is only so much a guy can eat too- even if these usually are just small portions that I prepare. But still- I love buying new ingredients and experimenting- it is the spice of my cooking life!

Sadly... I only ever get around to cooking after a full day of work though- sigh! And being as it was a little later than usual by the time I got home this evening, I decided it was as good a time as any for me to try my hand at preparing Quinoa for the first time ever... and to try out a new spice to go with it!

With he fact that 99% of people are pronouncing the name wrong, I decided to buy some "keen-wah" and try preparing it for myself, as I must say that the 2-3 occasions I have eaten it so far, it has sadly been rather bland and lacking in flavor. Which of course has a lot to do with the way it is prepared and seasoned.

I started off by rinsing the quinoa under running water, until the water ran clear- this helps remove the excess starch that would otherwise make the tiny grains all stick together in a slimy mess by the time they are cooked. I measured out 3 cups of quinoa and added 6 cups of water, added some relatively finely chopped celery and a couple of slices of ginger, seasoned with salt and pepper and started it boiling, then reduced it to a fine simmer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, I finely chopped parsley, just a little huacatay (optional- but I have it, so I used it!), just a little bit of garlic and a small yellow pepper. I then finely sliced a small red chili pepper and a spring onion, removed the seeds from one half of a cucumber, cut it into quarters length-wise and then cut those long strips into small slices. Absolutely quick to make and totally easy too!

After 15 minutes, the quinoa was tender and fluffy- but very steamy! But I decided that this would be the best time to season it, as it would take on any flavors and spices much better hot than cold. So I added all of the ingredients, plus salt, pepper, a little ground cumin and a half teaspoon of the dried and roasted red paprika powder. I added the juice of half a lemon as well as some very finely sliced lemon zest, a nice glug of olive oil and touch of green tabasco. The last thing I added was a nice handful of dill, plucked into small-ish pieces and a good handful of red radish sprouts, for some leafy and peppery goodness:-)

I tossed everything together gently and let it sit and cool-off / fluff-up for a further 5-6 minutes. After that time, everything was very, very fluffy and taste and delicious! The smokey flavor of the paprika went so well with the mild and sweet flavor of the veggies and quinoa- who knew? For a first attempt this wasn't bad- nice and light and summery! And the best is yet to come!

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