Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rainbow Quinoa Salad

This salad is so delicious!  It's bright and vibrant and it's perfect for spring and summer.  The flavor combinations work really well together - a little salty, a little sweet.  It just really hits the spot!  I also realized that it's swimsuit season soon and I have to rein in my winter eating habits.  This salad is low calorie and very healthy.  If you're not too familiar with Quinoa, here is a little extra info: pronounced - keen-wah, it originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru.  It is a species of goosefoot that is a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds.  It's high in protein, lacks gluten and is very hearty.  It's actually considered a complete protein and is very high in calcium.  For my family it takes the place of couscous and, in my opinion, it's tastier and healthier.  This is a great side or it can be served on it's own as a light lunch.  It also works really well in a wrap or tortilla.  We recently went to a Philadelphia Union soccer game and we went early to hang out and picnic outside the stadium.  I brought this salad and it traveled so well.   Mason loves the little pearlini Mozzarella cheese and pine nuts but they can easily be removed and replaced for a nut free, dairy free option.  Try this for your next picnic, lunch or dinner.  It's so flavorful and I think you'll love it!  Enjoy!

La Recette:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed 
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup golden beets, cubed (about 3 medium sized beets) red beets work too
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup arugula, washed and dried
1/2 cup pearlini mozzarella balls, feta or goat cheese could be another option
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for sautéing 
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 medium saucepan
2 medium sized bowls, for an ice bath and mixing
1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 cup measuring cups
Medium sized strainer
1 tablespoon
1 and 1/2 teaspoons
Slotted spoon and mixing spoon

-Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Trim and wash the beets.  Wrap them in aluminum foil and place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Roast for and 1 hour and fifteen minutes.  Cool to room temperature and remove the skins.  They should just peel right off using your fingers.  Then cube them and combine them into the salad.  If you use red beets, put them into the salad last and you might want to use gloves while peeling them because they can stain your hands a little.
-In the meantime, bring a medium sized saucepan halfway full of water to boil.  Once you have a rolling boil, put the sugar snap peas in for about 3 minutes.  Have an ice bath ready (a medium sized bowl full of ice water).  Scoop the sugar snap peas out with a slotted spoon and place them in the ice bath for about 10 minutes.  I cook the sugar snaps just to take the raw edge off and the water bath is used to shock the vegetables so that they stop cooking but maintain their vibrant green color.   I still want them to have a crunch.
-Discard the water in the saucepan.  Place the finely chopped onion in the saucepan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and sauté for 3 minutes.  I do this to take raw edge off as well.  
-While the onion is cooking place the corn into the stainer and rinse well.  Put the corn into the pot with the onion and turn off the heat.  
-Next, drain the sugar snap peas, cut them in half and put the onion and corn into the sugar snap bowl and set aside.
-Wipeout the saucepan if necessary.  You are going to use this saucepan to cook the quinoa.  
-Put the cup of quinoa into the strainer and rinse well.  Sometimes quinoa can taste a little bitter if it isn't rinsed.
-Pour 2 cups of low sodium vegetable broth into the saucepan and then add the quinoa.  Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until most of the broth is gone (about 10 minutes).  Cover the pot and turn the heat off.  Let it steam for about 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, fluff it up with a fork and let it cool to slightly warm.
-In the meantime, combine the cherries, arugula, pearlini Mozzarella, and pine nuts into the bowl with the sugar snap peas.  If you need to toast the pine nuts, 350 degrees for about  5 minutes on sheet pan works well.
-Once the quinoa a cooled slightly combine it with the other ingredients and mix well.
-Mix in the olive oil, lemon juice, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
-Last, mix in the beets and make sure everything is well combined.  
-Serve immediately or it can be refrigerated and served at a later time.
-Serves 4-6 

Udi's Gluten Free tortillas (the best!), sweet potato chips by Food Should Taste Good and a side salad.

My favorite brand of stocks and broths.  Organic and gluten free.

Quinoa should look like this when it's done cooking…light and fluffy.

Happy Spring!


  1. Marissa - we made your salad tonight & it was fabulous!! I knew my mom would love it & sent her the recipe. I got to their house tonight & she was making it…with Michigan dried cherries, no less. :-) xoxo, abby

    1. Thanks Abby! So glad that you liked it! Michigan dried cherries are the best ;)


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