Friday recipe: curried quinoa and cabbage salad

I’m like food author Mark Scarbrough in that 1) I endeavor to eat “real” food (i.e., foods that are not processed or injected with fat, sugar and sodium, but yet that are highly flavorful and satisfying) and 2) I like to make dishes that will last me several meals. He and Bruce Weinstein published the worthy tome Real Food Has Curves: How to Get Off Processed Food, Lose Weight, and Love What You Eat, which they promise offers a “fun and ultimately rewarding seven-step journey to rediscover the basic pleasure of fresh, well-prepared natural ingredients: curvy, voluptuous, juicy, sweet, savory.”

Now, who wouldn’t want a little voluptuousness on one’s plate? I recommend Real Food because it matches the advice of David Spreadbury, Ph.D., chair of DMU’s biochemistry and nutrition department: Your food choices should be both healthy and good-tasting, or else you won’t stick with them. In the nutrition classes he teaches at DMU, and in Scarbrough and Weinstein’s Real Food, you’ll find that’s eminently possible and delicious.

Crunchy, flavorful, protein-packed and REAL. Photo: Real Food blog

So today I’m offering a recipe that fills the two objectives I mention above while allowing me to use up the cabbage I failed to transform into cole slaw for company this past weekend. This comes from Real Food and is also posted on Scarbrough’s blog as a “great make-ahead salad to take to work,” another bonus objective for me. Yet one more bonus: The salad includes quinoa, a super grain that’s packed with protein.

Curried quinoa and cabbage salad

  • 1 cup red quinoa (you could use golden or black, too)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (Scarbrough recommends almond oil)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups chopped cabbage, about a 1-pound head, cored and chopped into small threads (see below)
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped golden raisins

Boil the quinoa in about two quarts water until tender, about 14 minutes. Once boiled, the grains will split and release little spiral-like tails. Drain the grains and put them in a large bowl. NOTE: Quinoa is small-grain so it will go through most kitchen sieves (and right down your drain). Prevent that by lining your sieve with a thin cotton towel or a large coffee filter.

To prepare the cabbage, Scarbrough advises cutting the head in half through the stem end, removing the tough core and laying half cut-side-down on the counter. Slice it into very thin strips, separating them. Then do the same with the other half.

Heat the oil in a large wok or a very large skillet, then add the onion, garlic cloves and fresh ginger. Stir until the onion has wilted and turned translucent, about 3 minutes, then add the curry powder and salt. Dump in the chopped cabbage. Stir in the white wine vinegar, scrape up anything on the bottom of the skillet, cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is quite tender.

Mix in the raisins, then pour the entire contents of the skillet into the quinoa and toss well. Serve warm or chilled, storing it covered in the fridge for up to five days. While the salad is flavorful enough on its own, Scarbrough suggests mixing various condiments into each serving, such as hoi sin sauce, mango chutney, spicy mustard or – my suggestion, for those who like it hot – the always-divine Sriracha sauce.

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