I love quinoa. As far as delicious, gluten-free grains go, quinoa is by far my favorite and, in my opinion, also the most versatile. But, as many times as I’ve whipped up a batch of the basic white quinoa, I’ve never cooked the red or black varieties. The fact that this colorful quinoa is more expensive has always deterred me. But look how beautiful it is!
Not only is this quinoa beautiful, it’s also naturally gluten-free, a complete protein, and a wonderful source of fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, iron and potassium.
Black quinoa, though, has a leg up on its lighter-colored counterparts. According to WebMD, this deeply hued quinoa derives its’ darker pigment from anthocyanins. As a rule, the darker the color, the more anthocyanins the food possesses, and black quinoa is dark! Anthocyanins are believed to have strong anti-inflammatory properties and Monica Giusti, assistant professor of food science at Ohio State University, discovered through her research that anthocyanins may also provide protection against cancer: “Monica… found that black carrots slowed the growth of cancer cells by up to 80 percent, and black raspberries helped reduce the growth of esophageal and colon cancer tumors.”
So perhaps that heftier price tag can be justified by the additional nutritional benefits
Although the different colors of quinoa have basically the same flavor, the flavor of the black quinoa is slightly more pronounced. I had also read–and my experience with cooking this dish proved–that the darker quinoa also holds its’ shape better when cooked than white quinoa, which can sometimes have more of a porridge consistency when cooked.
This dish was amazingly good. The flavors were delicious together and although I usually consider sweet potato a fall-ish food, it’s the perfect complement to this lighter, summery Spanish-style salad. For more information on the health benefits of sweet potatoes (one of my faves!), click here.
- ¾ cup black quinoa, soaked, rinsed and drained
- 1 sweet potato, cut into 1-inch cubes (you can peel the sweet potato or, if it’s organic, leave the skin on)
- ½ cup tomato, chopped (I used Roma)
- ⅓ cup kalamata olives, sliced
- 1 small or ½ a large avocado, sliced
- 3 Tbs. green onion, sliced
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 small lime, juiced
- ¼-1/2 tsp. red chili pepper flakes
- pinch of cayenne
- salt and paper, to taste
- After soaking and rinsing the quinoa, cook it in 1½ cups filtered water: place the water in a saucepan over medium-high heat and when it begins to boil, turn the temperature to low and add the quinoa. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until fully cooked. Drain excess water if needed. Set aside to cool slightly.
- While the quinoa is cooking, steam the cubed sweet potato for 7 minutes or until softened. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients: garlic, olive oil, lime juice, red and chili pepper flakes,. Set aside.
- Combine the quinoa, sweet potatoes, and the rest of the veggies in a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top and stir until everything is coated. Add cayenne, salt and pepper to your liking.
- Serve while still warm or straight from the fridge–this dish makes for delicious leftovers! Enjoy!
Recipe lightly adapted from here.