Monday, May 16, 2011

Meatless Monday: Quinoa Salad

I first tried quinoa at a local place back in Florida. I'd never had it or heard of it, nor did I have any idea what I was ordering, but it was the side dish with the special and up to that point, everything I'd eaten there was amazing, so I figured I'd go with it. It didn't disappoint. It was red quinoa with an herbed garlic butter. Um, you had me at butter.

Since then, I've prepared quinoa as a hot side dish a couple times, but Mr. FoodWhore wasn't as enthusiastic about it. It lacked the flavor for him. This time, I hesitantly created a cold quinoa salad as a side dish. I loved it. But what would Mr. FoodWhore think?  I hit the jackpot. He also loved it. Against my better judgement, I had made a huge portion of it, but it was gone in just two days. Now I wish I'd made more. 

Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
2 medium broccoli florets
3/4 cup corn (frozen is fine, just thaw it out)
2 medium carrots, shaved or shredded
3 tbsp feta crumbles
1 bundle fresh ramps (wild leeks)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
chopped fresh basil (optional)

1. Prepare quinoa according to the box. You'll want the quinoa to be cool or at least room temp, so I'd suggest preparing it the night before if you won't have a lot of time the day of to let it cool. But if you need to chill it fast, spread the hot quinoa on a plate in a thin layer and place it in the frige. It should cool pretty quickly.

2. Chop the broccoli, removing the stalks--you pretty much just want the heads. Toss in a bit of olive oil and roast for 20 minutes at 400*.

3. In a medium size bowl, combine corn, carrots and cooked quinoa. Set aside.

4. To make the dressing, finely chop the ramps, using the white bulbs and a bit of the purplish stalk. If you don't have access to ramps, you can use leeks or green onions.

5. In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the ramps, olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Set aside.

6. Once the broccoli is done and cooled, mix it gently into the quinoa.

7. Right before serving, add the feta and dressing. Top with fresh basil and serve.

Note: unlike a traditional green salad or pasta salad, the quinoa holds its texture in the dressing. This kept for a couple days in our frige and still tasted great.

This salad was super easy, very adaptable, and a great way to add protein to any diet. It can be served as a side dish or a pre-meal salad or in a larger portion as the main course. I'm already thinking of other ways to use it: in a tortilla wrap, stuffed into peppers, sprinkled over a green salad . . . . I'm also excited about adding other veggies to it: grape tomatoes, roasted squash, nuts, red onion, etc . . . .

Bon Appetit!
The Food Whore

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