Sunday, May 27, 2012

straightforward quinoa salad and other memorial day recipes

As a cookbook author and someone who loves to eat, I enjoy trying exotic flavors, unusual foods and new restaurants. But as I strolled through Whole Foods yesterday, flanked by Buddha's hand lemons, goji berries, Alfajores, young Thai coconuts and a├žai pulp, I actually felt a bit disoriented. David Bryne's famous lyrics popped into my head: "Well, how did I get here?" How did we get here? 

As the "foodie" culture is crescendo-ing, I wonder if the relentless pursuit of "big flavors" has actually dulled our palettes and numbed us to the simplest culinary pleasure – tasting, no – experiencing individual ingredients. The gentle pucker of a plump raspberry. The smoky heat of a chipotle pepper. The sweet, dry tickle of a sip of cava. One of the first lessons aspiring painters learn about color is that if you mix with abandon, you often end up with mud. The same is true of food.
Simple pleasures: a back-to-basics side made from pantry staples 
Consider this lemony side dish an ode to simplicity. Made from pantry staples [nutty quinoa, sweet basil and red pepper, bitter cauliflower], the flavors play nicely together but also retain their individuality. Each half-cup serving contains only 3 grams of fat, but also provides almost 100% of your daily dose of vitamin A, plus respectable amounts of protein, fiber and vitamin C. As with many of my recipes, it's modular. You can substitute any grain you like for the quinoa; you'll just need to adjust the cooking times. You can also add or subtract any finely chopped veggie you have on hand: for example, replace the spinach with chard, or the cauliflower with broccoli.  Or substitute lime juice for the lemon juice, replace the basil with cilantro and garbanzos with black beans, and you'll have a Mexican-esque Quinoa Salad. The possibilities are endless. Just keep it simple and you can't go wrong.

Since this recipe makes 10 servings, it's the perfect bring-along for your Memorial Day cookout. If you need more vegan Memorial Day menu ideas, check out my recipes for Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad, Caprese Sandwiches and Rhubarb-Apple Pie, which were featured this week on the Today Show Food Blog.

Straightforward Quinoa Salad
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup quinoa, dry
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 cups cauliflower, very finely chopped/crumbled [Pieces should be about the size of the quinoa]
  • 1 red pepper, minced
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • Zest and juice from one organic lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, very finely chopped
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • Salt and plenty of fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 15-16 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed [or about 2 cups]
  • 2 cups spinach, very finely chopped 

Serves 10

Bring broth to a boil. Toss in quinoa, garlic, onion, cauliflower, and pepper. Cover, lower to a simmer and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Mix oil, maple syrup, lemon zest, juice, and herbs in a large bowl.

When quinoa is done, toss gently with dressing, chickpeas and spinach. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.

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6 comments: said...

i love a good quinoa recipe! And this one looks and sounds delicious! thanks for sharing!!

MagicKitchen Coupons said...

Loving this kind of food. Very delicious indeed.

Anonymous said...

Getting ready to make this delicious looking salad! How much chickpeas did you use?

urban vegan said...

Sorry Anonymouse...about 1 can, rinsed :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update! Just made the salad and it's wonderful. Thanks for the recipe!

Omen shara said...
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