Quinoa is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas." Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. In addition to protein, quinoa features a host of other health-building nutrients. These amino acid-rich seeds are not only very nutritious, but also very delicious. Cooked quinoa seeds are fluffy and creamy, yet slightly crunchy. They have a delicate, somewhat nutty flavor. You can serve this dish as a salad, appetizer or light summertime meal.
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp pepper paste
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 green onions, finely chopped
1 small red onion, petite diced
1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 large tomato, diced
1 cucumber, petite diced
2 tbsp pomegranate syrup*
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp mint flakes
juice of 1 lemon
Romain lettuce leaves
1.Soak the quinoa for 15 min - 1/2 hour in it's cooking pot. Soaking helps quinoa to cook evenly, and loosens up the outer coating of saponin, which can give a bitter taste if not removed. If you don't have time for a longer soaking, use hot water and soak for five minutes
2.To Rinse: Stir the quinoa with your hand, and carefully pour off the rinsing water, using a fine mesh strainer at the last. Drain quinoa well in the strainer, transfer to the cooking pot, add 1 1/2 cups water & 1/2 tsp salt if desired.
3.Bring to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat down to simmer cook for 15 minutes.
4. Remove quinoa from heat and allow to sit five minutes with the lid on. When cooking is complete, you will notice that the grains have become translucent, and the white germ has partially detached itself, appearing like a white-spiraled tail. If you desire the quinoa to have a nuttier flavor, you can dry roast it before cooking; to dry roast, place it in a skillet over medium-low heat and stir constantly for five minutes.
5. Put tomato and pepper paste in a big bowl and melt them with boiling hot water. Add the quiono into this mix. Stir once. Fluff quinoa gently with a fork.
6. Add pepper flakes, ground pepper, cumin, mint flakes, oil, pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, and red onion. Mix well. At this point taste to see if it needs more lemon juice.
7. Add tomatoes, spring onions, cucumber, and parsley. Mix gently and serve on a lettuce bed.
*Traditionally Kisir (Turkish Tabbouleh) is made with Bulgur. It is very delicious with bulgur also. If you want to try this recipe the traditional way use 2 cups of fine Bulgur and 2 cups of hot water instead of Quiona and skip the steps 1-4 above. Instead pour the tomato and pepper paste mix into bulgur. Stir and cover with a thick kitchen towel and let it soak the water for 10-15 minutes. Then repeat the steps six and seven.
If you don't have Pomegranate Syrup at home you can make your own, or you can find it online, I strongly suggest to make your own, it is not only great for this recipe it also makes a great salad dressing. If you decide not to use pomegranate syrup in this recipe increase the amount of lemon juice.
Pomegranate Syrup or Molasses
4 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For Syrup: Place the pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a 4-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the mixture has reduced to 1 1/2 cups, approximately 50 minutes. It should be the consistency of syrup. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the saucepan for 30 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and allow to cool completely before covering and storing in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
For Molasses: Place the pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a 4-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the mixture has reduced to 1 cup, approximately 70 minutes. It should be the consistency of thick syrup. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the saucepan for 30 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and allow to cool completely before covering and storing in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. (Recipe for Pomegranate Syrup-Molasses is adapted from Alton Brown for original molasses recipe go to http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/pomegranate-syrup-or-molasses-recipe/index.html)