Monday, 3 June 2013

Vegetable Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is a complete or high-quality protein, possessing all essential amino acids in the proper proportions and it's also a great source of carbohydrates, making this grain-like seed an excellent choice for vegetarians. I've used quinoa many times as a rice substitute in dishes like stir-fry and even in sushi. My most recent quinoa side dish was a warm, vegetable-packed, quinoa salad, which I served with yummy fried okra and tofu. This salad is very light, so it is ideal for the summer and although I initially served it warm, it is also excellent as a cold salad.

I've used red quinoa, but both red and white quinoa cook the same and can be used interchangeably. The instructions might seem a bit long, but really you are just making quinoa and cooking some vegetables. Not that difficult really, I've just tried to line everything out timewise for you.
For those really hot summer days, forget the baking, and barbecue the vegetables! After the vegetables are grilled, cut and toss with the quinoa in the same fashion.

Serves: 8-12 (as a side)


1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup vegetable broth + 1/2 cup water
A pinch of red chili flakes
3 medium cloves garlic
1/2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise
1 portobello mushroom
1 medium yellow pepper (orange or red works too), halved
4-6 spears of asparagus
3 cups kale, de-stemmed and chopped
1 green onion, greens and whites separately chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts (other nuts or seeds can be used)
1/8 cup fresh basil, ribboned
1 tbsp white or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 tsp sesame oil, divided
1/4 tsp ginger powder
salt and pepper to taste


In a medium pot, cover quinoa with cold water, and let soak for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and cut vegetables. Place garlic (in their husk), quartered zucchini, portabello, yellow pepper halves (center down) and the asparagus spears on a large baking sheet.
Place baking sheet in the oven, set to 400°F and cook until vegetables are tender, up to 30 minutes depending on your oven.

After quinoa has soaked, rinse with cool water using a mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Transfer quinoa back to the pot, and add the 1 cup of liquid, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, a pinch of red chili flakes, the whites of the chopped green onion and a good grind of black pepper.
Put pot on medium heat uncovered. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook covered for 30-35 minutes or until water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a medium serving bowl, combine the other 1/2 tsp sesame oil with 1/8 cup of olive oil, the vinegar, the ginger powder, and a bit more pepper. Stir, then add in basil, green onion tops and pine nuts.
As the vegetables are nearing completion, you can take them out of the oven one at a time and begin adding them to the salad.
Remove the garlic first, it can be removed after about 20 minutes if you are ready. Depending on how cooked it is, you can either mash it in the bowl with the olive oil, or if it is more cooked, you can give it a rough chop, then add it to the bowl.
Remove the zucchini and slice about 1/4" thick, add to salad bowl.
Next, remove the pepper from the oven, remove its skin, chop the flesh into small squares, then add to the bowl.
Finally, remove the asparagus and the mushrooms, chop and slice and add to the salad.

After about 30 minutes of cooking, when the quinoa has absorbed all the water, remove the pot from the heat and let steam for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes of steaming fluff up the quinoa and let it cool slightly before transferring it to the salad bowl.

In the quinoa pot or another pan, quickly wilt the kale, by stirring the kale on medium heat until bright green and slightly soft, about 3-5 minutes.
Add kale to the salad bowl. Stir and combine. 
Add the remaining 1/8 cup olive oil to the salad, mix again. 
Taste and season with salt and pepper.