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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sri Wasano’s Infamous Indonesian Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is one of my new magic ingredients. Making this dish was actually the first time I have cooked it, as with many other trends (such as leggings), I always seem to be a bit late to the party. But oh wow how brilliant it is. According to Wikipedia quinoa is a pseudocereal that is more related to beets, spinach and tumbleweed than other grains – messes with your head doesn’t it? What this means is that while you can cook it and use it in recipes just like its grainy equivalent (eg. Risotto, stuffed peppers) it is low carb, high protein, gluten free and kosher for Passover (not kitniot either).

This recipe comes from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook – I have mentioned before how much I love this book. In fact, it was my first ever cookbook. Its vegetarian, interesting and wholesome recipes, with hand-drawn illustrations and a whimsical style of prose.  I have tried this recipe before with brown rice as the recipe suggested, but actually I think I preferred it with quinoa – what it also has, which quinoa needs, it a whole lot of dressing. Quinoa tends to get pretty dry, but this salad does not, even on day two. The Indonesian style flavours are fantastic – the pineapple, chilli, garlic, soy combinations creates an incredibly complex flavour, with much more depth than the standard Chinese style sweet and sour.

If you do not have American cup measures, use a teacup. This recipe will give about 4 – 6 servings. I have scaled down the oils a little bit in the dressing.

2 cups quinoa
4 cups water

For the dressing –
¼ cup flavourless oil
2 ½ tbsp sesame oil (optional)
½ cup orange juice (I didn’t have this, and 1/3 cup lime juice instead)
1 or 2 medium cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp soy sauce (or a little salt)
½ tsp crushed red pepper (I used 1 crumbled, dried birds eye chilli as they are pretty powerful, but I probably should have used 2 – this salad needs big flavours)
2 tbsp rice vinegar (or vinegar suitable for passover)
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple/ canned in juice (I used the canned variety, and added about ½ a cup of the juice)

For the salad –
3 finely sliced spring onions (whites and greens)
2 finely sliced stalks celery
1 can water chestnuts, thinly sliced (optional - I didn’t have these)
1 big handful beansprouts (not for passover)
1 cup roughly chopped roasted, salted, cashews

Put the quinoa in a large saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on for approx. 10 minutes, and then leave off the heat with the lid on for another 5 – 10 minutes.  While the quinoa is cooking assemble the dressing ingredients in a large bowl, and add the hot quinoa directly to the dressing bowl and mix well. It will look like that there is way too much dressing to absorb, but don’t worry it will. Cover and leave to cool. Don’t add the rest of the salad ingredients until just before you are ready to serve it, so that everything stays fresh and crunchy.


  1. Really amazing dish - I can't believe it was your first time making quinoa! You are truly a master in the making.

  2. Wish I had seen this prior to making this straight from the cookbook. (rice version). It was so oily it was inedible, we had to trash the entire thing. Original recipe calls for 1/3 cup peanut oil + 3 tbsp sesame oil.

    1. Sorry about that - I never trust dressing quantities in cookbooks, especially American ones or ones written by Nigella Lawson! Do try it with the Quinoa - it really is a delicious salad.

  3. Hi, just found your blog; thanks for posting this! I've been making things out of my beloved copy of the Moosewood Cookbook for 30+ years; my husband and I started going there for lunch and dinner the year it opened (1973). Fast forward to 2011; we are lowering the carbohydrates in our diet, so like you, switched from brown rice to quinoa for this recipe. Wow! Not only a big difference, but a good one. My recipe is very close to yours, but I omit the pineapple and add some grated organic coconut and grated carrots and raisins. Soooo delicious! Thanks again for sharing!

    1. Hi Juli thank you so much - I really like the idea of adding grated carrot :)