There are whole grains that are healthy and then there is Quinoa.

Sacred to the Incas, quinoa was referred to by them as chisaya mama, or the mother of all grains. Legend has it that each year, the Incan emperor would sow the first quinoa seeds, with much solemn ceremony.

Today, an amazing range of products are made with quinoa, from breakfast cereals to beverages. Quinoa pasta is popular among those following a gluten-free diet, and the grain is a favorite ingredient in granolas, breads, and crackers. In 2010 the National Restaurant Association named quinoa as the hottest trend in side dishes in its “What’s Hot” survey of chefs.

There are over 120 different varieties of quinoa, but the most commonly cultivated and commercialized are white (sometimes known as yellow or ivory) quinoa, red quinoa, and black quinoa. Quinoa flakes and quinoa flour are increasingly available, usually at health food stores.

Here is a spicy quinoa salad with delicious dried apricots and baby spinach in the mix.

Quinoa Salad & Dried Apricots
This salad has absolutely no cholesterol. It also gives 135% of a person’s daily value of Vitamin A, 50% of Vitamin C, 38% Folate, 35% Magnesium, 28% Potassium, 27% Iron, 19% Zinc and 3 servings of carbohydrates.

Ingredients

    • Moroccan-Spiced Lemon Dressing
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. honey
    • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
    • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Salad

    • 1 cup quinoa
    • 2 tsps. extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
    • 2 cups water
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 2/3 Moroccan-Spiced Lemon Dressing, divided
    • 1 cup cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
    • 1 small red onion, chopped
    • 8 cups baby spinach
    • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Method

    • Dressing: Whisk lemon juice, yogurt, honey, cumin, cinnamon and ginger in a small bowl until blended. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup oil till dressing is smooth and mixed. Season with salt and pepper.
    • Salad: Toast quinoa in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until it becomes aromatic and begins to crackle, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly.
    • Heat 2 tsps. oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Add apricots and the quinoa; continue cooking, stirring often, until the quinoa has dried out and turned light golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add water and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes.
    • Transfer quinoa to a medium bowl and toss with 1/3 cup of the dressing. Let cool for 10 minutes.
    • Just before serving, add tomatoes and onion to the quinoa; toss to coat. Toss spinach with the remaining 1/3 cup dressing in a large bowl. Divide the spinach among 4 plates. Mound the quinoa salad on the spinach and sprinkle with almonds.

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