Thursday, March 21, 2013

Quinoa Salad with fruit and nuts

I know I've talked about quinoa many times before and my love for any dish that contains this wonderful gluten-free superfoodQuinoa, being a complete protein, is also a good source of fiber and calcium.  Given all that, here is another salad that every quinoa lover needs to have in their recipe files.  The combination of caramelized balsamic red onions, toasted walnuts, diced bits of fennel, apple chunks and dried cranberries sing Hallelujah on your taste buds.
I adapted this recipe from the fall 2012 issue of GROW magazine, which is Fine Gardening's guide to vegetable gardening.  

Quinoa Salad with Apples, Walnuts, & Cranberries

1 C red quinoa
1/2 C white quinoa  
5 Tb extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
3 Tb balsamic  vinegar
3 C kale, thinly sliced
4-5 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 large crisp apples, cut into 1/2" dice
1 C toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 C finely diced fennel
3/4 C dried cranberries
3 Tb red wine vinegar
fresh ground black pepper
Feel free to use whatever color quinoa you have on hand.  I like to mix the white and red, but it all tastes the same.
Rinse quinoa, then place in a 3 quart pot with 2 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 tsp of salt.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce to low and simmer covered about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, let it sit 5 minutes then fluff with a fork and cool to room temperature.  
Heat 2 Tbs of olive oil in a 12" skillet over medium high heat and add the onion and a pinch of salt.  Cook, stirring often, under tender, 6-8 minutes.  Add the balsamic vinegar, and toss with the onions until the vinegar cooks away, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and let it cool.
In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, onions, kale, celery, apple, walnuts, fennel and cranberries.  In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 3 Tbs olive oil with the vinegar, 1/2 tsp of sea salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper.  Pour the dressing over the salad and gently mix it in. Let it sit a bit, then taste.  Add more olive oil if it seems too dry. 
It is so refreshing and holds up well for several days in the refrigerator.

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