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Meatless Meal: Quinoa Salad

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Well, it’s Lent again and it’s a Friday, so you know what that means for me?  Meatless meals.  I don’t eat fish.  I’m allergic to fish and seafood so that’s not an option for me so I’m always looking for something different.  Be sure to check the drop down menu under “categories” over on the right hand side to find the meatless meals category – this will take you to last year’s meatless meal Lenten posts as well as any other meatless meals I have shared on here.

Recently, I attended a workshop/potluck for the Community Food Advisors program I am a volunteer with.  One of my fellow CFAs led the workshop and did a food demonstration.  For one of her recipes, she made the most delicious quinoa salad.  I had never even eaten quinoa before (pronounced KEEN-WAH) but I went straight out and bought some after that.  Since then I’ve been experimenting with a variety of quinoa recipes that I’ve found and adapting them to my tastes.  Here’s a variation of quinoa salad that I’ve adapted from several others and really really love.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa prepared according to the package directions

½ cup edamame

1 cup dried cranberries (raisins will work here too but I love the taste of dried cranberries)

Half a small onion chopped finely – I like to use red onion to add colour or a sweet Vidalia because I love the flavour; some shallots or little Cipollini onions are really good with this too

Other fruit or vegetable alternatives (use up some leftovers!) are chopped apple or pear (the one I first sampled had pear in it and it was so delicious), chopped sweet peppers (I prefer the orange or yellow ones in this recipe), chopped cucumber, corn kernels, chopped or grated carrots, or thinly sliced radishes.  I can imagine that chopped celery and grape or cherry tomatoes might be a good option too but I’m not a big celery fan and I’m allergic to tomatoes.  I’m sure you can think of even more alternatives!

1/2 cup to 1 cup nuts (depending on how much you personally want)  like walnuts, pecans, or slivered almonds

3 T vinegar – you can use any kind you like but my favourites are pear vinegar when I want a slightly subtler taste or balsamic and fig vinegar when I want a more robust taste

2 T oil – again, use your favourite but I think an olive oil would be a better choice than say a vegetable oil – I frequently use an oil that is a blend of olive, flaxseed, and grapeseed which is a tasty and healthful mixture to use but a store nearby has just started carrying avocado oil and it’s a nice but stronger tasting alternative too. – in addition, I have tried walnut oil in this and it has a lovely taste to it but again adds a slightly stronger flavour than just something like an olive oil would.

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Some herbs can be a nice addition to this recipe – mint, basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and chives are all good options
Some lemon zest can be really delicious in this and adds a lovely light flavour to it.

Salt to taste

Freshly cracked pepper to taste (I just bought a peppercorn mix that is 4 colours of peppercorns in one and I think I’m addicted to it!  I use it in almost everything!)

Instructions:  Combine the quinoa, edamame, cranberries, onion, nuts, and any other fruits or vegetables you want to add to this.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, and mustard to make the dressing.  Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture and add in your herbs and spices.  Toss until combined.  This is such a filling dish that it works beautifully as a main dish – if you want to make it even heartier, you can add something like feta, goat cheese, or bocconcini to this – if using the feta, you might want to make it more of a Greek flavour by using the idea of tomatoes and some lemon juice/zest and maybe throwing in some black olives too.  If you’re not looking for a meatless meal, you could certainly toss in something like some leftover cooked chicken too.

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