Thursday, February 28, 2008

Food Finds: Better Living Through Quinoa?

By Pat Tanner One of the liveliest workshops I attended at last month’s conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey was one led by a tag team from Hopewell: Sharon Vecchiarelli, a private health counselor who teaches organic baking and cooking at Mercer County Community College, and Will Mooney, whose restaurant, Brothers Moon, was among first in the state dedicated to using local, sustainable foods.

While Mooney put the finishing touches on a quinoa salad, he confessed, “I have been an awful eater my whole life. Until last year I used to eat at fast food burger joints and go on fad diets, only to gain back more weight than I lost.” What changed? “I found it increasingly hard to get up in the morning. My bones ached and I was gaining weight. So, I decided to start eating the good foods I was making at the restaurant.” Not only has he lost weight, but he no longer snores and he swears that his hair is growing back!

Mooney's salad reminded me how much I like quinoa, an ancient grain from the Andes. Vegetarians and vegans like its high protein content, while individuals with Celiac Disease rely on it because it’s gluten free. I’m partial to its fluffy texture and mildly nutty flavor - and that it’s no harder to prepare than rice.


Will Mooney, Chef/Owner, The Brothers Moon, Hopewell

2-1/2 cups cooked quinoa

2-1/2 cups roasted red peppers, diced small

2-1/2 cups cooked green beans, diced

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons best-quality extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Serve at room temperature.
Makes 2 quarts.

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