When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Colourful quinoa salad

The vibrant blooms popping up everywhere outside lately have taken my usual cravings for fresh, colourful foods up a notch, and the meals coming out of our kitchen this week have been another welcome sign of spring.  On today's lunch menu was this delicious quinoa salad, which I threw together quite easily using some already cooked quinoa, a bunch of bright, crunchy veggies from the crisper, and a zingy homemade citrus vinaigrette.

If you haven't yet tried quinoa, a highly nutritious (and gluten-free) ancient grain, let me encourage you to add it to your diet!  Quinoa is a complete, balanced protein, rich in fibre and vitamins, and is really tasty prepared as a hot breakfast cereal, used in any warm dish where you would normally use rice, or eaten cold in a salad like this one.

Colourful Quinoa Salad

1 cup uncooked quinoa  (I buy the truRoots brand from Costco which is already pre-rinsed; if your quinoa is not pre-rinsed, it is very important to rinse it well under running water for 3 minutes or it will taste bitter)
2 cups water
1/2 cup green beans, chopped into bite-sized pieces (I blanched the beans by dropping them into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, draining them, plunging them into a bowl of ice water, and then draining them again)
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1 small carrot, cut in half lengthwise and then thinly sliced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1/4 - 1/2 of a red pepper, diced
1/4 - 1/2 of a yellow pepper, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives (I actually picked these out of my herb garden today, if you can believe it!  We love an early spring!)

For the dressing:

juice of 1/2 a lemon, freshly squeezed
juice of 1/2 an orange, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp mixed lemon and orange zest
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp raw honey
sea salt and pepper, to taste

Place quinoa and water in a saucepan over high heat.  Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove saucepan from heat and let quinoa stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff quinoa with a fork and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, blanched green beans, cucumber, carrot, celery, red and yellow peppers, parsley and chives. 

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake well.  Pour dressing over quinoa, veggies and herbs and stir gently until dressing is well-distributed.

It's best if you can prepare this salad an hour or two ahead of when you plan to serve it, and then let it sit in the fridge to allow the flavours to mix and intensify. Mmmmm!

This wholesome salad makes a lovely lunch -- I served ours on a bed of fresh baby spinach leaves and sprinkled it with chopped walnuts to add even more colour and crunch.  I hope, if you try it, that this salad will brighten your day!

No comments:

Post a Comment