We all know quinoa (KI-nwa) – an herbaceous plant grown for its edible seeds that remotely reminds us of confetti falling down on our heads when we play piñata. Sipping horchata. Sorry for that, but these two things together is a rhyming must.
Quinoa seeds are so vulnerable and airy that not only traditionally this grain is harvested by hand, but even today it’s rarely done by machine. Especially in the Andes – the cradle of quinoa.
By the way, if you ever heard that the excessive consumption of this agricultural crop badly affected the aboriginal people of the region, putting smallholder farmers and rural communities in a situation where they could no longer afford this staple because of the ravenous appetites of the Western people, that eventually drove domestic prices too high – you should know that this was merely a myth.
Such information appeared in the respected media at first, actively spreading within a couple of years and soon every blogger on the internet knew that you couldn’t eat quinoa without blaming oneself. But please don’t be ashamed to eat it. The real analysis (of Peruvian communities) conducted by the International Trade Centre revealed that quinoa trade “has benefited some of the world’s poorest farmers, most of whom are women”. The study also confirmed, “that exports of quinoa to developed countries contribute positively to the welfare of poor, rural communities in Peru”.
Let’s celebrate that with showcasing a wonderful recipe that highlights the versatility of quinoa. For that you’d need 1 cup quinoa, 2 cups diced cucumber (about 2 medium), 2 cups finely diced tomatoes (about 2 medium), 1-2 chilies to your taste, 1 finely minced red onion, some roughly chopped cilantro, 3-4 tbsp olive oil, 1-2 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice.
Take a medium saucepan, put your quinoa confetti in it, cover with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste, reduce heat to low, simmer for 15 minutes, then drain excess water.
Combine cucumbers, chillies, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and olive oil in a large bowl with a pinch of salt. Add lime juice and vinegar. Stir in the quinoa, season with salt, pepper, top with nuts and greens of your choice and serve immediately. Eat for the health of the Andean people.