Building on our discussion of vegetarian sources of protein, I thought it might be time for a little creative and delicious inspiration. This dish is super easy to put together and is so satisfying that you really don’t need much else along side it (except maybe some warm pita bread and hummus…yum). The creaminess of the avocado, the heartiness of the chickpeas and the warmth of the cumin and cilantro come together so effortlessly, gracefully marrying the quinoa. This dish is so delicious, and nutritious, that V and I both have an overflowing bowl of it for dinner at least once a week.
Technically speaking, as a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beetroots, spinach and tumbleweeds. Its nutrient composition is very high, containing lysine and high quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Quinoa is considered a complete source of protein as it contains all of the nine essential amino acids. Quinoa, in general, is cooked the same way as rice and easily takes on the flavors of anything you put with it, so it’s super versatile to use.
Chickpeas are also a very good source of protein and fiber. They also contain copper, folate and manganese. About 70% of the fiber found in chickpeas is insoluble. This type of fiber remains undigested all the way down to the final segment of your large intestine where they metabolized by bacteria in the colon to produce large amounts of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs provide fuel to the cells that line your intestinal wall and therefore help lower your risk of colon problems, including your risk of colon cancer.
Quinoa and chickpeas have both been called super foods… and in this dish they truly are! Combined with velvety avocados, juicy cherry tomatoes, finely diced onions, garlic, herbs and spices, this dish is a perfectly satisfying late summers night meal!
Yield: 3 to 4 entree sized portions
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
14oz freshly cooked garbanzo beans, or 1 can (drained and rinsed)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 avocados, diced
2 cups baby spinach
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup sweet onion
2 small cloves garlic
For the dressing:
Juice of 2 lemons
zest of 1 lemon (optional)
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
dash of salt and pepper
Bring the water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil and add the quinoa. Bring back to a boil and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed the liquid. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes to cool.
In a food processor, add your spinach and cilantro. Process the greens until they are finely diced.
Add the greens to a bowl, and set aside. Next finely dice your onion and garlic and add to the greens mixture. Add your chickpeas and stir until everything is combined and coated. When the quinoa is cooled, add it to the chickpea mixture.
Whisk all the dressing ingredients together. Pour over salad, and mix until combined. Add in tomatoes and avocado and mix. Set in fridge for about 10-15 minutes before serving to set the flavors.
Recipe adapted from raudette