Have you heard of Kaniwa? No, I didn’t misspell the dubious Quinoa, this one is Kaniwa. I read about it recently in a food magazine where the question was posed asking if Kaniwa would be the new replacement for Quinoa. I’m not sure about that, but it sure is another good grain for the kitchen recipe arsenal. I am loving it.
Kaniwa (pronounced ka-nyi-wa) is about half the size of quinoa. These grains are super tiny. Teenie tiny in fact, but are BIG in protein, fiber, iron, and calcium. With a nutty, sweet flavor they deliver on taste and crunch. Where quinoa is a fluffy grain when steamed, the kaniwa is not. It reminds me somewhat of millet, with crunch appeal, like I use in my Wheat Berry Grain Salad. It comes from the Andean areas stretching from Peru to Bolivia in South America. It’s also gluten-free like quinoa and just as versatile to use. This grain can be used in salads, soups, and cooked into a porridge, or toasted and ground into flour for baking. Endless possibilities with this one!
Another way that Kaniwa is different from Quinoa is that it doesn’t contain the saponins that give Quinoa that soapy, bitter flavor if you don’t rinse it before steaming. So you don’t need to wash the Kaniwa grain first. The cooking process is pretty much the same though.
Kaniwa has been around quite a while, but a little difficult to find. It just hasn’t had it’s big break so to speak, but it’s quite tasty. I decided to make some and incorporate into a salad with a variety of fresh Autumn vegetables, fruit and nuts. A quick honey, chopped mint, apple cider vinegar and oil dressing came together and I was happy. Ecstatic really. This was pretty incredible.
Then I thought I would just make it a meal and broke out some rotisserie chicken and tossed the shredded chicken into the salad bowl and we were set.
The Farmer’s Market was crazy with Autumn vegetables and fruits. I decided I wanted to use some sweet potato, pomegranate, pear, this beautiful purple cabbage and a few green onions.
The cubed sweet potatoes would simply get a 5 minute cook in the microwave covered in water until fork tender.
See how tiny the grains are of this Kaniwa? That’s a measuring cup and would almost double in size when steamed.
See how when steamed they still hold their shape and expand slightly. This is great as a hot cereal with Almond or coconut milk, too.
I went for a dressing comprised of apple cider vinegar, vegetable oil, honey and chopped mint. A pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper were easily whisked together.
The bounty of pomegranates were stacked at the market and I chose some really good ones. Look at this beauty!
Assembly took no time at all. I drained the cooling sweet potato and in the large salad bowl they went with the sliced cabbage, green onions and chopped pear.
I poured the salad dressing over and allowed them to soak as I seeded the pomegranate.
I start at the flower end, peel skin back and gently pull apart. The pomegranate should open and split. Gently rub fingers over seeds and gather into bowl. Set aside.
Next I added the cooked kaniwa and tossed to incorporate completely and absorb the dressing.
The rotisserie chicken got shredded and chopped into bite size chunks. In the bowl they went along with the pomegranate arils and chopped pecans.
I took a little sample and adjusted seasoning with more cracked fresh black pepper and chopped mint.
This is fantastic as a stand alone salad with or without the added chicken. Visually it’s definitely a cornucopia of colors. Healthy, healthy, healthy.
Served chilled it was filling, flavorful and so healthy. All those textures and flavors. The crunchy kaniwa grain, chunky yet soft sweet potato, the fresh pear and little pops of bursting pomegranate had my mouth singing. The fresh mint in the tangy dressing helped pull it all together for one memorable salad.
- 1 cup kaniwa
- 2 cups water
- ½ purple cabbage, shredded
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1 large sweet potato, chopped
- 1 pear, chopped
- 1 cup pomegranate arils
- ½ cup toasted pecans, chopped
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp honey
- kosher salt
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 10 fresh mint leaves
- 2 cups rotisserie chicken, chopped
- Cook the kaniwa in boiling salted water for 20 minutes.
- Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Cover with water and microwave for 5 minutes or in saucepan until fork tender but firm. Drain and set aside.
- Shred cabbage, chop green onion and pear. In a small sauté pan toast the pecans slightly. Allow to cool and chop.
- Crack the pomegranate and gather one cup of the arils.
- Whisk together the vinegar, oil, chopped mint and honey. Season with salt and pepper.
- Use white meat from rotisserie chicken and tear into chunks. Reserve the balance for another use.
- Add all the vegetables, fruit, kaniwa and chicken together in a large salad bowl. Toss with dressing and allow to chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Adjust seasoning if needed with salt or fresh cracked pepper and serve.