Guest Blogger and Mango Quinoa

Hi Friends!  I’m currently away visiting my family in good ole’ Missouri, but I didn’t forget about you.  My close friend and fellow baker, Elizabeth, cooked and wrote this week’s recipe for me. I hope she saved some left overs for me when I get back!


Hey there! Guest blogger Elizabeth here. Ashley graciously invited me to contribute to her blog, and I’ve been promising her this recipe for ages, so… let’s make some quinoa with Thai flavors!

In case you’re not familiar with quinoa, it is a super yummy, super healthy complete grain. Lately, I’ve been using it in recipes that call for orzo and pastina. It is very quick and easy to prepare, so there’s no reason not to try it. The quinoa found in most grocery stores has already been rinsed free of its bitter protective coating (it needs this coating while it grows because the bitterness keeps the critterness away), but as long as you have a fine-meshed strainer or cheesecloth to line a colander with, go ahead and give the dry grains a good rinse before cooking. If you don’t have a fine-meshed strainer or cheesecloth, relax; I can pretty much guarantee your quinoa won’t taste bitter. Cooking quinoa is similar to cooking rice; follow the two to one rule. The quinoa and the water go into the pot at the same time. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it go at a simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. It’s done when all the water is absorbed and the quinoa’s hair stands up. You’ll know what this means after you’ve cooked quinoa.


I found this recipe in the New York Times, and they adapted it from “Passover by Design,” by Susie Fishbein. I’ve upped the quantity of lime juice from one tablespoon plus one teaspoon to an entire lime’s worth, and I’ve upped the quantity of mango from half a mango to a whole mango, because, really, who wants only half of a delicious, perfectly ripe mango?

1 ½ cups dry quinoa (so that means three cups of water, get it?)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/3 cup minced red onion
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon table salt
1 whole lime juiced, with 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lime juice set aside
10 good sized fresh basil leaves
Small handful of cilantro leaves

1. While the quinoa does its thing, prepare the rest of your ingredients. I like to have the red onion, jalapeño pepper, and mango already all chopped before I begin the lime juice/olive oil emulsion.


A Word about cutting jalapeños: be very careful, because that juice can burn like the dickens, and sometimes it waits a few hours after you’ve been exposed to it before the discomfort even starts. Some folks tell you to use gloves, but I just try to touch the inside of the pepper and its seeds, as well as the blade of the knife I’m using, as little as possible. Then I immediately wash my hands and knife very thoroughly with dish soap. I actually shot myself in the eye with jalapeño juice a couple of weeks ago, but I flushed it out quickly enough that I didn’t end up in agony. Dork.

Another Word about cutting mangoes: some people can do that neato dicing trick where they halve the mango, score the flesh, and then turn the whole thing inside out to reveal perfectly angular cubes of mango. I cannot do this. I usually end up with a very sticky board full of totally irregular pieces of mango. If you can dice a mango neatly, cool. Please come teach me. If you can’t, don’t worry; it’s going to taste the same.

2. On to the emulsion! I love emulsions. I love what happens when you slowly stream oil into vinegar or citrus. It is magic in the kitchen. So! Salt and the one tablespoon plus one teaspoon lime juice into a big bowl. Start whisking. Slowly stream in the olive oil, and whisk, whisk, whisk. When it comes to streaming in oil, slow and steady always wins the race. After all the oil is in, keep whisking. You should have a beautiful, shimmery green dressing. It is lovely to behold.

3. Next up! Toss the red onion, jalapeño pepper, and mango into the bowl. Watch what happens to the red onion after it hangs out in the lime juice for a while. It becomes pink onion! It’s quite pretty.


4. The quinoa should be done cooking by now. Throw that into the bowl next. You can let that all hang out together, untossed, while you prepare the basil and cilantro. You’re going to chiffonade the basil, which is just a fancy way of saying you’re going to stack about five or six leaves on top of each other (smallest on the top, biggest on the bottom), roll it up longways like a cigar, and then slice across the cigar. You get pretty little ribbons of basil. As for the cilantro, I just rip that stuff off its stems. I learned the hard way that me + cilantro + a very sharp knife = bad news. So I rip. I don’t cut.


5. Toss the quinoa, onion, pepper, and mango together, and taste for salt. Drizzle the reserved lime juice on top. If you love lime juice, dump it all in, but I usually drizzle a little, give it a taste, and then drizzle some more if needed. This dish can be eaten warm, room temperature, or cold, but it’s best to add the greenery right before you serve.


According to the Times, this serves six people as a side dish, but seriously, my husband and I usually eat it as our main dish and end up consuming about two thirds of it. But it’s healthy! So who cares?



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