Quinoa Salad with Arugula, Asparagus & Avocado

by Amy Sherman
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quinoasaladAh, Spring! We are enjoying a warm spell right now and the fresh produce reflects the change of seasons with earthy root vegetables giving way to tender bright greens. I am so happy to have sunshine and bright green asparagus to eat!

I recently discovered how delicious asparagus is when served raw, in salads. The trick is to shave it thinly with the sharpest vegetable peeler you have, then dress it with oil, lemon and salt so it wilts, just slightly. Asparagus is like the poster child for Spring.

I had eaten quinoa, but never tried cooking it until just recently when I received some samples of it--red, white and black--from Roland Food. Reading about quinoa I discovered while it has the texture of grain, it's actually a fruit. It's also gluten-free. It is very bitter unless thoroughly soaked and rinsed. Fortunately quinoa from Roland Food is already soaked saving me the bother.

Quinoa comes from the Andes, a staple in Peru, Chile and Bolivia where it has been cultivated since at least 3,000 BCE. It is high in protein, calcium and iron and the white variety has a sweet flavor. Most importantly, it has all the nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein.

I tried toasting the quinoa, but I like the milder sweeter flavor for this recipe. It has a fluffier almost creamy texture that works well with the strong flavor of the leafy arugula. I really like the addition of dill, but you could easily leave it out or use parsley if you prefer. You could also use a slightly different mix of vegetables.

Note: If you don't plan on serving this salad right away, reserve the arugula and toss it in the salad right before serving.

Quinoa Salad with Arugula, Asparagus and Avocado
makes 2-4 servings

1/2  cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
5 asparagus spears, shaved thin (use a vegetable peeler)
1 handful fresh baby arugula, roughly chopped
1 green onion, chopped
2  Tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan combine quinoa and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 12- 15 minutes or until liquid is completely absorbed. Meanwhile In a mixing bowl, make the dressing by whisking together lemon juice and oil. Add avocado, green onion and arugula to the dressing.

Transfer quinoa to a medium bowl and allow to cool. Add quinoa to dressing and vegetable mixture; toss with fresh dill and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy!

 

Amy Sherman is a San Francisco–based writer, recipe developer, restaurant reviewer and all around culinary enthusiast. She blogs for Epicurious , Bay Area Bites and Cooking with Amy.

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