Quinoa Salad

IMG_2317I started making this recipe this summer when a friend of mine introduced it to me. All sorts of tasty (and healthy) dishes come out of her/her mother’s kitchen and this is no exception.

It was perfect for the summer because, after cooking, it was a high-protein salad that I enjoyed making and eating, and it tasted great chilled. Problem was, it had become such a big part of my weekly meal planning (I would make some to bring into work a couple times per week for lunch) that it was hard to give up when winter came and all I wanted was warm, comfort food to keep me going until spring.

Some foods that are meant to be cold, just don’t work as a hot dish; this is not one of them. It was perfect for winter, or for your overly-air conditioned office, because it tastes just as great warmed up! And that makes me happy because I can eat it all year long.IMG_2268

So, whether your winter is hanging on or melting away, here is a salad for you.

Ingredients:

  •  1/2 Cup cashews
  • 1/4 Cup almond slices
  • 1/2 Cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4- 1 Cup broth
  • 1 apple (I use Granny Smith because I like how tart it is and the acid keeps it browns slower than other varieties)
  • 1/2 lemon or about 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/3 Cup Crasins
  • Olive oil (about a Tbs)
  • Salt and PepperIMG_2228

Quinoa Salad

Preheat oven to 325º. Spread cashews and almond slices (you could really use any nuts you like, I just happen to enjoy these two) on a baking sheet and toast 10-15 minutes, rotating them every 3-5 minutes, until golden brown. When done, set aside.

While nuts are toasting, take your rinsed quinoa and put it into a medium sized sauce pot. Turn heat to medium-high and toast slightly (you can skip this step, a lot of recipes say you should toast quinoa to bring out flavor, I just think it helps it cook faster), about 3 minutes. Add 3/4 of your cup of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until all water has evaporated. If, when the water is mostly gone, the tendril-like ring has not detached from the quinoa, add the extra 1/4 cup of broth (or more if necessary) until quinoa is tender and tendrils have detached. When done, set aside to cool slightly.

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Chop your apple into 1/2 inch (or whatever size you think is bite appropriate) chunks and place in baggie with lemon juice, shake to coat. This will help your apple from browning as well as providing a nice, fresh flavor.

In medium to large size bowl, combine nuts, quinoa, apple, crasins and a drizzle of olive oil (this is just to keep everything moist and help it stay together, less is more), salt and pepper to taste.

Variations on a theme: try a handful of spinach sauteed with a dash of ground nutmeg or 1/2 cup sweet corn.

This is by far my favorite way to eat quinoa, although I have had some very tasty recipes try to take its place. How do you like your quinoa?

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