Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Quinoa Garden Salad

Surprise Yourself by Jack Garratt
"Keep exploring, seek and find."  My younger children, who didn't get much of a chance to get to know their grandfather, my dad, before he passed away, will ask me questions now and then about him.  They ask about the things he liked to do, they ask for little anecdotes that will shed light on what it was like to be around him, and they sometimes ask what he would have done in such and such a situation.  I love these questions as it allows me to sink back into the time when he was alive and the love I felt from him.  The words to this song are an accurate depiction of how he approached the world - an insatiable learner, never satisfied that he knew enough.  And I have inherited this from him.  When I see something that intrigues me, I must know more.  And all the quinoa salads I've had in recent months had put me on a quest to create my own.  And now I have.  And there will be more varieties because I must keep surprising myself!

I had a long round road trip this past weekend.
600 miles each way.
With road construction tucked in neatly
here and there, it amounted to about 
a nine to ten hour drive.
Ten hours to the destination because I had my 
daughter with me and she has back pain
so we needed to give her time periodically
to get out and walk around.
It took nine hours on the return trip 
because I was alone.

But I was alone!
I can usually find someone to come along for
the ride to keep me company.
This time I had no success!
How to keep myself alert and awake?


If you have never listened to a 
podcast, I greatly urge you to give one a try!
There are some really good ones!
It's like the old radio shows
but with an endless variety of topics!

On this nine hour drive I chose to listen to
the TED Radio Hour podcasts that
had filled up my queue.
TED talks are always phenomenal.
They always have subjects that exercise your
brain and enlighten your view on
so many subjects!
I probably listened to 7 of them
and never got a hint of drowsiness because I 
was so fascinated!
It's very much the same experience
I get when I'm on my treadmill.
I compose many of my recipes
and posts while on my treadmill!

So, while I'm listening to these fabulous
talks, in the back of my mind, 
I was also composing 
my quinoa salad.

I knew that what I loved about the quinoa salads
I'd had so far was the variety of textures
more than the variety of flavors.
But follow the texture cues and
you're bound to find amazing flavor!

There needed to be freshness, crispness, 
crunch, smoothness, creaminess, and a pop.
I thought about what was hanging out
in my pantry and fridge at home.
The ribs from the romaine lettuce 
and the new crop Fuji apples would be crisp.
Sunflower seeds would give a crunch.
Tomatoes would be fresh.
Avocados would provide the creamy element.
And quinoa has a sort of pop in your mouth.

I couldn't wait to try it out!

Sometimes these salads are offered with a 
protein addition like chicken or shrimp
but they don't need one
as quinoa is a complete protein itself!
But I'm a fool for a soft poached or over-easy egg.
When I dine out, even if an egg isn't offered on the menu,
I will ask if the kitchen would be
willing to do it anyway!
I'm rarely told no!
There is a guilty pleasure in the way the velvety
yoke coats all the morsels that enter your mouth!

My favorite bite?
Each time one of those apple chunks
found their way onto the fork!

New to quinoa?
Expand your mind
as well as your palate!
You just might surprise yourself!

Quinoa Garden Salad
Serves 6

1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed and chopped
1/2 cup cooked and cooled quinoa (follow pkg. directions)
1 tomato, diced
1 apple, cored and diced
1/4 red onion, small diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1 small avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tablespoon chopped chives
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
juice from 1/2 orange
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

Whenever I am working with fruits or vegetables that tend to oxidize (turn brown) quickly, I set up a strategy where I can make sure that that doesn't happen.  If you're not that picky then ignore my steps!  But, with this salad, I am dealing with both apples and avocados.  Both known oxidizers.

I started by cutting the stem end of the romaine lettuce off and washing it well and then standing it up in my dish drainer to drain while I did the rest of the prep.

Next I cooked the quinoa and spread it out on a shallow pan and stuck it in the freezer to cool quickly.

Next I made up the vinaigrette with the last four ingredients - the ones after the dashes.

After that, I cup up the apple and scooped the bits into the bowl with the vinaigrette and tossed them around so that the acid from the orange juice could keep them from browning.  With a slotted spoon I removed them and placed into a large bowl and set aside.

Then I chopped the tomato, and onion, and bell pepper - adding all to the bowl with the apples.  I also chopped the chives and thyme and added them to the bowl as well.

When you have something this pretty going on, how can it be anything but delicious?!

Now it was time to chop the romaine lettuce.  I placed it all in a larger serving bowl.  I removed the quinoa from the freezer, fluffed it with a fork and sprinkled it over the lettuce in the serving bowl.

I cut up the avocado and tossed it around with the apples and vegetables and then poured them all into the serving bowl.  I lightly mixed the ingredients around and gave it a taste.  I ended up adding a little bit extra dressing but I was surprised at how the dressing on the apples had done a great job of coating everything else!  A little salt and I was good to go!

You can serve it just like this.
You won't feel cheated, I promise!

No comments:

Post a Comment