Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quinoa Salad

Today started as "one of those days". I had a hard time dragging myself out of bed (as I'm unemployed and not in school until January) and then I couldn't figure out what to eat for breakfast. I settled on toast from the loaf of bread in my freezer with almond butter and raspberry jam. It made my fingers sticky.
Then I proceeded to go out to check out some apartments, none of which would work for me. (They were all tiny, dirty, or sketchy. Ugh.) After viewing apt 1 i headed back home to kill a few hours before my next appointment. I was feeling lazy and uninspired so I heated up some frozen sweet potato fries for lunch. While they were tasty, that's really a poor excuse for a lunch in my world. About an hour before I was to set out to check the next two apartments, I got an email from vegetarian times with this recipe for a spinach quinoa salad with cherries and almonds. That title was enough to set my tired, apathetic brain racing, so before I headed out for another few hours I put some quinoa in the rice cooker. (Best invention ever!) Did you know you could cook quinoa in a rice cooker? I didn't until recently and it has caused even more love and appreciation for my rice cooker than I thought possible.
I also whipped up a quick vinaigrette to let the quinoa soak up it's flavors while I was out. Then when I got home, hungry again I just threw in some chopped veggies and cooked kale, and I had a delicious healthy meal in 10 mins!
This salad was soo tasty. Fresh and healthy, but still hearty and comforting (thanks to the cooked kale) which is oh so important at this time of year. My bad day has ended on a such a great note thanks to this salad. More so, in that I just made it up as I went along, and it was delicious and healthy and satisfying.) I love when that happens.
And that, is why I love cooking.

quinoa salad

this recipe may look really long and daunting, but it's not. it's really so simple, so give it a try!

Quinoa Salad
(clearly all my creativity was used up in making the salad, so i can't name it.)

1 cup quinoa, uncooked

cook the quinoa according to directions. (Or do it the easy way and use a rice cooker! Just like you'd make rice.)

for the vinaigrette:
2-3 tbsp each: red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar (I found these complimented each other really nicely, if you don't have both use one or the other or white vinegar or whatever you have on hand!)
1 heaping tsp dijion mustard
1 tbsp orange marmalade
5-10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (enough until it's all thickened)
dash salt and lots of pepper
1/2 tsp mrs.dash (or other seasoning)

whisk the vinegars, marmalade, and mustard together. slowly drizzle in the oil until thickened. add the salt, pepper, and seasonings.

Mix the quinoa and vinaigrette together and let sit. (1/2 an hour or several if you can.)

for the rest of the salad:
1/4 yellow and red bell pepper
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries

add the veggies to the quinoa.

1 cup of kale, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
splash of soy sauce, lemon juice

dice the peppers, and chop the kale.
heat up a medium pan with the oil. once heated, add the kale and stir until it starts to wilt. add the soy and lemon juice, and garlic. keep on the heat for about a min, then remove and add to the salad.

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
to do this just throw the pine nuts in the heated pan until toasted. watch them carefully! these babies burn fast.

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