Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Toasted quinoa salad with scallops

Quinoa is a delicately flavored, protein-rich grain. It also contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source, is a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, and is high in magnesium and iron, all while being gluten free.

In it's natural state it has a bitter tasting coating called saponin, which makes it unpalatable. Rinsing removes any residue of saponin, and we tasted no trace of it. This is the first time I've ever made quinoa, although I've seen it over a million times on blogs I read and heard my mother and everyone else under the sun rave about it's nutritional qualities.  Valentines day was the perfect time to try it!

I was looking for a scallop recipe for the romantic holiday and came across this one...

12 oz dry sea scallops, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used smaller scallops so didn't cut them up)
4 t reduced sodium soy sauce
4 T plus 2 t canola oil, divided
1.5 cups quinoa, rinsed well
2 t minced garlic (I used 4 cloves)
3 cups water
1 t salt
1 cup sliced up sugar snap peas
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 t toasted sesame oil
1 diced red bell pepper

Toss scallops with 2 t soy sauce and set aside.

Place a large, high-sided skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add 1 T canola oil and quinoa (make sure you have rinsed your quinoa like I mentioned before). Cook, stirring constantly until the quinoa begins to color (6-8 minutes). Add garlic and cook, stirring, until frgrant (about 1 minute more). Add water and salt and bring to a boil.  Stir once, cover and cook over medium heat until the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in snow peas and red pepper, cover and let stand for 5 minutes more.

Meanwhile, mix 3 T canola oil, the remaining 2 t soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil in a large bowl. Add the quinoa and veggies, and toss to combine.

Remove the scallops from the marniade and pat dry. Heat a large skillet over medium high until hot enough to evaporate a drop of water upon contact. Add the remaining 2 t canola oil and cook the scallops, turning only once, until golden and just firm (about 2 minutes total).  Gently stir the scallops into the quinoa salad.

Overall, this dish was really good....not something I wanted to shout from the rooftops, but I believe that was because we also had one of my favorite foods (crab legs) with this dinner so I was distracted by those.  I would compare it to rice texture wise, and the taste was mainly made up of the sauces used, which came out sort of asian inspired.  The veggies and scallops were perfectly done and crunchy, and the whole meal just tasted fresh and amazing.

I would like to try quinoa again, and have seen a quinoa mac and cheese that intrigued me so I'll let you know how that goes. It didn't blow my socks off but there's so many different ways to prepare it, I'm sure I can find the one that fits me! But if you're looking for a new and interesting dish with scallops....look no further.

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