We’re going to a party, and I offered to bring along something for the table. The request: a quinoa salad. “Quin-wha?” I asked.
“It’s the latest super-food,” my host told me. “An ancient grain. Full of minerals, lots of protein, and a good source of folic acid for all those pregnant mothers-to-be out there.”
I had no problems finding quinoa at our local bulk barn. Armed with a recipe from my increasingly health-conscious sister, I set to work. Quinoa salad, deconstructed, includes (besides quinoa of course), these ingredients:
- baby spinach – iron and folate
- toasted pumpkin seeds – vitamins E and B plus fiber
- grape tomatoes – vitamin C and potassium
- sweet yellow pepper – vitamin C
- beans – fiber, iron, and folate
- garlic – cancer fighters
- olive oil – vitamin E
How healthy is that! But would it taste any good? I sampled the quinoa after it had been cooked in some boiling water for the prescribed amount of time. Carnivore that I am, I wasn’t very impressed. Pretty blah, I thought. It did have a nice chewy feel in the mouth, though. Perhaps it showed promise.
I soldiered on, chopping the veggies, toasting the seeds, and whipping up the dressing. I was a little taken aback by the large amount of olive oil the recipe called for. But I threw it all in, anyway. It was a humungous dish of food, and after all, we need some monosaturated fats every day to keep our engines oiled, don’t we?
I called my sister to make sure I could add the dressing ahead of the party start-time. Was this the kind of salad that tastes better the next day? Or does it just get too soggy for words after a long sit? Happily, she assured me that this is a make-ahead salad, perfect for parties, so I added the dressing and tossed furiously.
Now for the big question… would it pass Vinny’s flavor test? I got out my spoon and took a large mouthful. The vinaigrette was perfect! It added just the right amount of bling to the other ingredients to create a taste sensation. It even pulled dowdy old quinoa out of its doldrums. Rock on, Quinoa – your salad is DELICious!
Try it for yourself. The recipe makes enough to fill your largest salad bowl, about 3.5 litres or 14 cups of salad.
Quintessential quinoa party salad
1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
2 1/2 cups salted water
- 2 small cans of kidney beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 sweet yellow pepper, chopped
- 6 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp brown sugar (or 3-5 drops liquid stevia)
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup olive oil
- some salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Combine the quinoa with the salad ingredients. Drizzle with the dressing 1/3 cup at a time and gently toss. If you need more flavor punch, try adding 4 ounces of feta cheese or a drizzle of lemon juice, and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Party on, dude!