"Cooking with a Grain of Quinoa"

{by Ellery Sadler}

Cooking is one of my favorite things to do (particularly after watching Julie and Julia). As my sisters will testify, I love sweets, talking in a Julie Child voice, pouring over cookbooks, and am a diehard Food Network fan! :) Yes, anything sweet makes me smile …but I have made a few healthy meals as well and this quinoa salad (pronounced ‘KEY-nwa’)  is one of my favorites. I created this particular recipe this summer, mixing together some of my favorite ingredients into a refreshing chilled salad. It looks great, tastes amazing, and is healthy too!
Here’s why it’s good for you: carbohydrates are one of the best sources of energy. Quinoa, native to Peru, is a great deliverer of complex carbs, amino acid, and the best source of complete protein from any whole grain. It has very little sugar and no gluten. Nutty in flavor, fluffy in texture, and very versatile, quinoa is a great grain to use in lots of different dishes.
So I hope you enjoy one of my more savory, healthy creations!

Chilled Quinoa Salad
Serves 6-8 as a side dish 4-6 as a meal  
1 ½ cups of quinoa
3 cups water
1 tsp. chicken stock
½ cup onion
3/4 cup of cucumber
½ cup of cherry tomatoes
½ -3/4 cup of crumbled goat cheese (substitute with feta or mozzarella if desired)
7-8  tablespoons balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté quinoa in 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet for about 3 minutes. Add three cups of water and 1 tsp. of chicken stock. Cover, turn onto medium heat, and let simmer for 15 minutes. The quinoa should be fluffy by the end of 15 minutes. There should not be any water left in pan. Take off the heat and let cool while you chop the veggies.  
Thinly slice onion and sauté for about 10 minutes in 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, until onions are caramelized and brown.  
Thinly slice cucumber into circles and then cut in half (it should look like a half moon shape) place in a medium size bowl with the rest of the balsamic vinegar and tomatoes. Toss gently. Stir in quinoa and crumbled goat cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil or chives. Eat right away, or chill until ready to serve. (This is a great dish for lunch the next day too.)

As Julia would say, Bon appetit!  

Ellery Sadler is sixteen-years-old, loves to laugh, write (she recently completed her second novel), cook, and hang out with her friends and wonderful sisters. She strives to be an ‘inside-out girl’ and live life to the fullest for the glory of God.