So as a part of my whole eating healthyish thing that I've got going on, I'm trying to eat more whole grains. One of the grains that I'm loving right now is quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). Quinoa, in case you were unaware, is the super grain of the future. At least, according to quinoa.net. As space-agey as that sounds, it's actually an ancient grain that comes from the Andes mountains in South America and was one of the staple foods of the Inca civilization. It's terribly heathy, containing more protein than any other grain and it's good for people with wheat and gluten allergies. If you happen to be concerned with things like that. It also happens to have a really great texture that works well in soups, salads and on its own as a side dish.
This recipe is adapted from one I found in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. The first time I made it I added grilled chicken but this time I decided to add shrimp that is marinated in olive oil and lots of fresh herbs. Mango and shrimp work so well together, but if you prefer to make this vegetarian, as Deborah originally intended, just leave them out. Unless you are one of those vegetarians who don't consider seafood to be animals.
(For the shrimp)
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails cut off
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup each of chopped fresh cilantro, parsley and mint
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
(For the Curry Dressing)
2 tablespoons yogurt, mayonnaise, or sour cream
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice and zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
(For the Salad)
1 cup quinoa
2 large, ripe mangoes
1 jalepeno, seeded and minced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 English or 2 Persian cucumebrs, chopped
1/3 cup roasted almonds
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
a handful of fresh spinach leaves
First make the marinade for the shrimp. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, and the chopped cilantro, mint, and parsley. Stir to combine. Add the shrimp, a teaspoon of salt and a grinding of black pepper and stir again to coat the shrimp with the marinade. Cover and put the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Next make the curry dressing. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, curry powder, lime juice and zest, the chopped cilantro and mint.
Whisk whisk in the olive oil and then season with the salt and pepper.
Place the quinoa in a small sauce pan with two cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the quinoa has absorbed the water.
Meanwhile in a large bowl, combine the cucumber, mango, sliced green onions, and minced jalepeno. When the quinoa has finished cooking, add it to the bowl and stir to combine.
Pour in the curry dressing and the chopped almonds and stir to coat.
Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator. Heat a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook for about two minutes per side, just until the turn pale pink.
To serve, place a bed of spinach on a plate, top with the quinoa salad and 4 or 5 shimp and then scatter over the chopped mint.
As I cook more I find that the meals I enjoy the most tend to be a melange of contrasting flavors and textures. This dish is a perfect example. The mango, fresh and sweet, and the clean tasting cucumber work well with the nutty, crunch of the toasted almonds and the mildy spicy curry dressing. The quinoa gives the salad a very unique texture. It's similar to couscous but is earthier and has more of a bite. It sort of soaks up and becomes one with the dressing, clinging to the surfaces of the mango, cucumber, shrimp and the spinach leaves. It's great when the quinoa and the shrimp are still warm, but it's equally nice cold.