Quinoa Salad

Serves 8

That Whole Foods expedition was all for this salad.  I was missing the main ingredient!  Quinoa is a pretty popular grain* in our house.  I first started eating it during my vegetarian days because it’s an incredible source of protein.  In fact, it contains all 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein.  It’s particularly high in the amino-acid, lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair.  (Perfect for the runner in my life and not bad for postpartum recovery either.)  Other health-building goodies include manganese, magnesium, folate and phosphorous.  It is an anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients.  Quinoa is gluten-free and easily digestible making the nutrients incredibly bio-available.  No wonder quinoa (native to South America) was given to Incan warriors before battle!

Anyway, I prepare this as a side dish but make sure to make a lot because it makes for a great lunch, especially topped with avocado.  YUMMA!

You’ll need:

1C quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
2C water or vegetable stock
1 medium bell pepper (any color), diced
2 scallions, finely chopped
2T cilantro, finely chopped (I LOVE cilantro, but if you’re not a fan, parsley or mint work nicely, too)
1/4 C shelled pistachios
1/4 C dried cranberries
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 C Extra-virgin olive oil (cold pressed)
1/4 C fresh squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt and fresh grated pepper, to taste
1 Haas avocado (if using)

To make:

1. Put quinoa, water/stock and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, reduce to simmer and cover.  Quinoa will be done in about 15 minutes.  Water should be absorbed and quinoa should look fluffy.
2.  Spread cooked quinoa on a baking sheet to cool.
3.  Mix zest, lemon juice and olive oil with salt and pepper and whisk thoroughly.  Taste for salt/pepper.
4.  Mix quinoa together with the pepper, scallions, cilantro, pistachios and cranberries.  Add dressing and toss together.
5.  If possible, refrigerate before serving.  Flavors intensify after a day!
6.  If topping with avocado, simply slice, spritz some fresh lemon juice, sprinkle some salt and add some more herbs.  Easy lunch for when you don’t have much time to spend in the kitchen!
7. Enjoy!

*Though it’s often referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed and a relative of leafy green vegetables such as spinach and Swiss chard!


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