And suddenly, it’s autumn.
Strange how a season can sometimes just roll in and take over, from one day to the next. Tuesday I was wearing sandals and now, 48 hours later, that seems like a pretty impractical thing to do. Sniff.
I thought I should send summer off in style with a fresh salad celebrating the waning produce that tastes of long days, bright sun, and warm winds. And! A newcomer in my life, Kaniwa; a very groovy little seed that whispers of autumn in all its burnished amber glory.
New Kaniwa on the Block
I have been hearing more and more about Kaniwa lately, some of you out there even asking me how to use it and feature it in a recipe. Well, it’s our lucky day because this stuff is tasty, versatile, and power-packed with nutrients!
Much like quinoa and amaranth, kaniwa is a seed – not a grain – and therefore gluten-free. And although kaniwa is often referred to as “baby quinoa” it is in fact not from the same plant and has slightly different properties. For one, kaniwa does not contain any saponins, the natural, protective coating that gives quinoa a bitter flavour if not properly rinsed before cooking. Secondly, kaniwa seeds are teeny tiny, almost like amaranth, and are a deep reddish-brown colour. The taste is similar to quinoa however, especially red quinoa, with a rich nuttiness that pairs wonderfully with both sweet and savory dishes. And also like quinoa, kaniwa is very high in protein, fiber, calcium and iron.
Kaniwa cooks in 15-20 minutes so it makes a quick breakfast porridge – just simmer the seeds in milk (dairy or non-dairy milk – it’s up to you), maybe add some warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, a sweetener like honey or maple syrup, chopped seasonal fruit, and some crunchy toasted nuts and seeds. Simple, delicious and full of good energy to fuel your morning! Kaniwa is also a great protein boost to add to soups and stews while they’re simmering on the stove. Simply toss some in at the start of cooking, and make sure that there is enough broth or water in the pot to cook the kaniwa. Of course kaniwa is the perfect salad base too, so start experimenting with all the textures and flavours that compliment its slightly crunchy, nutty qualities.
There is something so nostalgic and summery about grilling so I thought it would be only fitting to use that cooking method to bid farewell to my favorite season. I don’t have an outdoor grill in my apartment, only a grill pan, but it worked just as well as the real deal.
I am always astonished at how much flavour is added to foods just by altering the way you expose it to heat. Grilling makes veggies smoky, while caramelizing the natural sugars inside, so much I find that there is little need for a dressing. This salad had big plans for a mustard based sauce of sorts, but once I took my first bite of the dish undressed, simply drizzled with olive oil, I knew that it had the gumption to stand naked all on its own. Here I am world, grilled and gorgeous!
Kaniwa Farewell to Summer Salad
½ cup / 125g kaniwa (quinoa or millet would also work)
1 cup water
½ tsp. sea salt
2 ears fresh corn on the cob
1 small zucchini
1 bunch / 175g green beans
quick pickled onions (optional, recipe below)
ghee or coconut oil
olive oil to garnish
salt and pepper
goat’s feta, if desired
1. Soak kaniwa for up to 8 hours or overnight if possible (if you have not soaked it, proceed with un-soaked and rinsed). Drain and place in a dry saucepan over medium heat and toast it until slightly fragrant. Add water and salt, cover, bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cook until the water is absorbed and the seeds are tender. Remove from heat and set aside to let cool.
2. While the kaniwa is cooking, prepare and grill the vegetables. Slice the zucchini into thin ribbons with a sharp knife or mandoline. Stem the green beans. Shuck the corn. Lightly coat the vegetables in melted coconut oil or ghee and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Preheat the grill and cook until tender (times will vary greatly depending on the veggies!).
3. Quick pickle the onions, if desired.
4. In a large bowl place the grilled vegetables and drizzle with olive oil. Add cooled kaniwa, pickled onions, crumbled feta and salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.
Quick Pickled Onions (adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook)
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 dried bay leaves
6 whole peppercorns
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
1. Combine vinegar, salt, maple syrup, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a saucepan, and bring to a gentle simmer.
2. Add the onions, stir, and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from the heat. Let the onions cool at room temperature, then transfer to a glass jar and store in the fridge.