Spring has definitely sprung. Blooming flowers and their sweet scents fill the air, and the bounty of summer produce has started to show its early promise. Last weekend, at the farmers’ market, heirloom tomatoes made a timid, yet colorfully bold appearance, a hopeful sign of the start to the new season.
With all the colors and textures and varied produce appearing in the stalls, I often go a little crazy and start buying up way more than we can eat. I try to remind myself that the season is long, and that there will be plenty of time to enjoy its fruits. But my cooking has taken on a whole new level of color, and today’s recipe is no exception. Heirloom tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, asparagus, olives and whole lot of other veggies beautifully compliment my new favorite “grain”, kaniwa. It is a Spring feast for the senses and a foreboding of the produce to come.
Kaniwa is not a grain, but a small, red, gluten-free seed, much like quinoa and amaranth. It actually resembles amaranth in size, and quinoa in flavor, but with a smokier edge. It works beautifully anywhere quinoa does – as a porridge in the morning, a replacement for couscous in taboulé, or a simple side dish anytime. Experiment and find your own favorite way to prepare it.
Highly nutritious, kaniwa is very rich in protein, fiber, and various flavonoids, like quercetin (which helps support the cardiovascular system, balance blood pressure and reduce inflammation).
You can find kaniwa in most health food stores, well-stocked grocery stores, or online here and here. Soak kaniwa overnight, with a splash of vinegar, to help remove the phytic acid and anti-nutrients contained in grains, seeds, nuts and legumes. After soaking, it is ready to be cooked.
Love and health!
- 3/4 cup kaniwa, soaked overnight
- 4-5 asparagus
- 2 large heirloom tomatoes (red and yellow), diced medium
- 1 cucumber, seeded, diced small
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded, de-veined, diced small
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, de-veined, diced small
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional)
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 spring red onion, diced small
- sea salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (from about 2 juicy lemons)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (or fleur de sel)
- freshly ground black pepper
- Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, in a medium bowl, until well combined.
- Set aside.
- Drain and rinse the kaniwa.
- Bring 3/4 cup water, in a medium saucepan, over high heat, to a boil. Stir in the kaniwa and a couple pinches sea salt. Return the water to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the kaniwa until the water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Take off the heat and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large serving bowl and set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.
- Fill a large sauté pan with 1/4 inch filtered water and a couple pinches of sea salt. Add the asparagus, bring to a boil, and cook, covered, until fork tender, about 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer to a cutting board to cool, then chop into bite-size pieces.
- Add the asparagus, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, peppers, feta, mint, parsley, onion and dressing to the kaniwa. Mix well. Add sea salt and black pepper, to taste.
- Serve the salad immediately, or refrigerate in an air-tight container for later use.