This protein-rich, cheerful salad is made with quinoa, a seed of a plant that is actually related to beets, chard and spinach. It comes in a beautiful variety of colors such as red, purple and black that can greatly enhance the look of a meal, in addition to its phenomenal nutritional value. Native peoples in South America have enjoyed quinoa as a sacred staple for thousands of years. We enjoy it today for its nutty flavor and fluffy texture, along with amino acids and minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, zinc and magnesium. It’s becoming more popular with people searching for meatless sources of protein, as well as by celiacs, as quinoa is considered gluten free. More recently, I’m seeing it being used as a substitute ingredient in all kinds of dishes such as tabbouleh (replacing bulgur wheat) or in pasta, incorporating quinoa flour instead of durum semolina.
The toasty flavor of this salad and the colorful array of vegetables compliments the slightly sweet vinaigrette. The recipe is versatile, allowing you to use whatever vegetables are in season, or that you have on hand. Add some chickpeas or roasted tofu to take this dish from a side to a main course.
- 1 c quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
- 1 T olive oil
- ¾ c cucumber, diced
- ½ c red pepper, diced
- ½ c red onion, diced
- ½ c corn kernels
- ½ c celery, diced
- ½ c fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ c olive oil
- 3 T red wine vinegar
- 2 t agave nectar
- 1 t lemon juice
- 1 T prepared mustard
- pinch of salt
- Boil 2 cups of water in large saucepan. When boiling, add quinoa and then return to a boil. Lower heat and cover, cooking for about 15-20 minutes.
- In a large saute pan, heat 1T olive oil. Add pepper, onion, corn and celery and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
- To prepare dressing, combine vinegar, agave nectar, lemon juice and mustard in a bowl. Slowly incorporate the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking until well mixed. Add salt to taste.
- When quinoa is done and cooled, add cooked vegetables and cucumber. (You can do this in the same pot you cooked the quinoa). Mix well and add dressing, followed by fresh parsley.