Monday, 11 February 2013

Edamame, Carrot, Endive & Quinoa Salad

Quinoa has been in the news lately because of the effects its surge in popularity over the last few years is having on the Bolivian and Peruvian economies; in particular the inability of poor Bolivians and Peruvians to afford what was previously an inexpensive staple for them. It's popularity is no wonder; it's quick and easy to cook and tastes delicious, with a nutty, almost sesame-like quality.

I don't think we should stop eating quinoa. Economies need exports, or everyone stays poor forever. Transitions are never easy. Out of season asparagus from Peru is another story though. Not only does it cause the same land-use issues, it is an enormous waster of scarce water resources. (Some differing viewpoints about this here, here and here.)  This is all coming up, I guess, since the U.N has declared 2013 "the year of quinoa".

Could we grow quinoa here? The answer seems to be a definite maybe. It's not a tropical plant, but one that prefers cooler weather. That seems promising, but unfortunately it is also very intolerant of humidity, which means southern Ontario is not an ideal place to grow it. However, it might do better in northern Ontario, and Prairie Garden Seeds has been supplying seed for it for at least a few years now. I suspect it would do better on the Prairies, which are much more like the original homeland of quinoa. Still, there are also apparently difficulties with day-length sensitivity; not uncommon with plants that originate near the equator. Likely northern South America will be supplying it for a while yet.

I happened  to have some radicchio in the fridge so I used it, but it isn't local. Endive is very similiar in flavour if not quite so pretty, and is Ontario grown. 

4 servings
30 minutes prep time; add an hour to allow for cooling

Edamame, Carrot, Endive and Quinoa Salad

Make the Dressing:
the juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

Whisk or shake these ingredients together in a small bowl or jam jar.

Cook the Quinoa & Edamame:
1 cup light quinoa
1 2/3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups frozen edamame

Put the quinoa, water and salt in a rice cooker or small pot, and cook. If using a pot, bring it to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until done. Stir occasionally. When it is at least half done (about 10 minutes) it can be turned off and left, covered, to finish cooking for another 15 minutes or so. Let cool.

Cook the edamame  for about 5 minutes in boiling water. Rinse in cold water to cool and drain well.

Finish the Salad:
1 large carrot (1 1/2 cups grated)
1 large head Belgian endive OR radicchio

Peel and grate the carrot. Core and finely chop the Belgian endive or radicchio. Toss them with the cooked, cooled edamame and quinoa. Toss the salad with the dressing.

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