When individuals make vinaigrettes, they tend to gravitate towards using either EVOO or a neutral Saffron oil. Don’t get me wrong, not only are these oils full of healthy fats, but they truly help to enhance most vinaigrettes as well. What most people are not aware of… a plethora of different “flavors” of oils exist as well. For instance: walnut, almond, hazelnut, avocado, grapeseed, black andwhite truffle, basil, saffron, garlic, chili, parsley, sesame, etc. When I make my own vinaigrettes, I tend to use different oils in order to achieve and create unique flavors. For example: quinoa. By incorporating more quinoa into your diet, you are actually increasing your protein intake for the day. Why? Since quinoa contains an almost perfect balance of all essential amino acids necessary for protein existence, it instantly becomes a high-protein grain. It also tastes delicious. Bonus.
I will often cook quinoa (in chicken stock) and season only with sea salt and a touch of cayenne pepper. You may find yourself saying, “that seems pretty boring.” To which I would reply, “true, true.” However, by cooking a bland dish, I can then enhance it with the help of various vegetables, fish, poultry, red meat, vinaigrettes, etc. I can simply remove the desired amount of quinoa (from a larger “bland” batch), and add the desired flavors. Not only does this help me to experiment in the kitchen, but it also prevents me from becoming “tried” of the same dish for the week.
Now the flavored oils come into play. By cooking vegetables with different oils/ making vinaigrettes with different oils, then mixing with the quinoa, the oils will permeate the entire dish, making it a completely unique flavor-experience. There truly are a plethora of different combinations… challenge yourself to try new combinations! In order to incorporate more leafy greens into your diet, mix kale, spinach, sprouts, etc. with quinoa. Since kale can be bitter and unpalatable to most individuals, by mixing it with quinoa, it helps to “mask” the bitter green, whilst maintaining the health benefits. Lemon juice will also aid, as the acid from the lemon will diminish the bitter flavors. By keeping food in its most natural state (often times, raw), the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals are absorbed into your body (any type of cooking will destroy and eradicate some vitamins and minerals in food).
Add fruits (strawberries, pomegranate seeds, mandarin orange segments, etc.) to quinoa in order to play with the sweet/savory combination. Smoked paprika/smoked sea salts aid in a more “woodsy” combination. Toasted pine nuts/almonds/walnuts will also elevate the texture and flavor combinations, as will fresh herbs and spices.
And think about it… if you do not enjoy the combination, no one said you have to recreate the “experiment.” Simply learn from your mistake and press onward with confidence. We often learn the most from our mistakes… in more aspects than just cooking.
Love y’all! ♥