Chimichurri is one of the great accomplishments of man. In most chimichurri recipes, you’ll find a suggestion to spoon it over steak or chicken, as is the culinary tradition in its homeland of Argentina. Sometimes you even see, “Also works great with pork and fish!” This is good advice. My addition to these words of wisdom are: put it on all the things.
ALL OF THEM.
One of my favorite dishes before going gluten-free was tabouleh salad. For those who are unfamiliar, it’s a cold salad you’ll find in Mediterranean and some Middle Eastern cuisine. Essentially, it’s bulgar wheat (I’ve seen it made with cous cous, too), tomato, lemon, and a ton of fresh, finely chopped mint and parsley. I really missed that, and while I was able to recreate the salad pretty well using quinoa, rice, or millet, even steel cut oats, I missed the wheat’s texture and flavor so much, I was dissatisfied every time I made it. Properly cooked, fluffy quinoa can hold a sauce well and keeps its texture, wherein millet and rice tend to suck up all the flavor and get mushy. But quinoa doesn’t have the sweetness and benign flavor of wheat, so while it may be good, it’s just not the same. There’s a highly reviewed Ina Garten recipe out there for quinoa tabouleh, and it’s a pack of damn lies. About half of my gluten-free journey has been “figure out how to make a substitute,” and the rest has been “learn to like the other stuff.”
Now. I have always loved chimichurri. I will eat the heck out of some chimichurri:
- On meat
- On cooked vegetables
- Raw ones, too
- On bread
- On salad
- On grains and seeds
- with a spoon
- with my fingers.
I made a batch of chimichurri at some point while there was quinoa in the fridge, and naturally they came together as I was looking for more vehicles with which to eat my sauce. The intense flavor of chimichurri holds up well to quinoa’s earthiness. I threw in a handful of raisins for shits and gigs, and et viola, we have a delightful, healthy cold salad. I’ve taken it to pot lucks, and it’s well-liked. Sometimes I add chicken or fried tofu strips to it to make a complete meal.
Chimichurri, Raisin, and Quinoa Cold Canna Salad
Recipe caution: As with anything you’re making with homemade oil infusions, please make sure you try the infusion first to make sure you understand the dosage you want, as compared to a serving size of your finished food item. If your oil is very strong, you may want to cut it with regular oil.
Here’s how you infuse the oil (I recommend olive for this dish). (Sorry! This is from an old link, pre-data loss – I will add this back in asap. 9/11/2018)
- 1 c fresh parsley, de-stemmed
- 1/4 c red wine vinegar
- 4-8 cloves of garlic*
- 2 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/2 c canna-infused olive oil
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Throw everything into a food processor and blend until smooth. Put it in a jar. Try not to eat it all at once. Keeps for about 2 weeks in the fridge.
Quinoa is a seed, and its outer shell is coated with saponins, which taste bitter and soapy. To get perfectly fluffy and non-bitter quinoa, follow these instructions (it doesn’t take long, don’t be intimidated).
- 1 c dry quinoa (if it explicitly states that it’s pre-rinsed on the package, you can skip the first step).
- 1.5 c water, or clear chicken/veggie broth
- Rinse the quinoa well in a metal mesh strainer under running water for about 20-30 seconds.
- Make sure all the water is fully drained, then add the quinoa to a saute pan over medium-high heat.
- Stir it until it’s all dried out. Some of it may start to pop. When it’s dry, add 1 Tablespoon oil and stir in well
- Add the water to the pan, allow it to boil, then immediately turn the heat down until it’s just simmering.
- Cover for the duration of the cooking – 15 minutes. Don’t lift the lid during this time.
- Turn off the heat and allow the quinoa to rest for 10 minutes.
- Fluff and serve hot or allow to cool before throwing it in the fridge. It’ll keep about a week.
Add the chimichurri to the cooled quinoa in whatever proportion pleases you, throw in a couple handfuls (about 1/4 c fruit per 1 cup of dried quinoa used) of raisins or dried cranberries, add chicken or tofu if you’d like, and enjoy!