When I make it for dinner for Tom I serve it warm, and never call it a salad. Tom has a very different opinion about what makes a salad, and it doesn't include quinoa, so I've learned to call this a pilaf for dinner. I still add everything that makes it a salad in my book--raw vegetables, greens and that familiar acidic tang.
If this salad has one secret, it's the vinegar. Don't go cheap because good balsamic vinegar is the keystone of this salad. I like Fini, but shop around. I've found different varieties ranging up to $40. You don't need the top level of this brand. I found a reasonable price at Williams Sonoma and put it on my birthday wish list. The bottle on the website is twice the size of the one in their store, which was around $10. A little goes a long way with this stuff. Also, although the recipe specifies pecans, I've used walnuts, cashews and hazelnuts in this.
Use a very fine strainer for rinsing the quinoa. If you don't have one, use a nylon bag to rinse the tiny grains.
Quinoa, Corn and Carrot Salad with Toasted Pecans
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 3/4 cup water
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
Dash of salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 fresh cloves garlic, minced or pressed (or use 1/4 teaspoon dried garlic granules)
1/2 tablespoon chopped Mama Lil's Peppers or 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 cup finely chopped greens (mizuna, curly parsley, spinach, or chard)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup pecans
1. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add rinsed quinoa, stir and cook until toasted.
2. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add toasted quinoa, corn and a dash of salt. Bring to a second boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Allow quinoa to sit 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. While quinoa cooks combine vinaigrette.
3. Combine balsamic vinegar, oil, garlic and peppers. Set aside.
4. Place quinoa and corn, carrots, green onions and greens in a big bowl. Stir to combine, then add the vinaigrette slowly, blending in as you add. You may find you may not need it all and can save some for another salad. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Mix in the pecans just before serving.
Yesterday I made this salad and tossed it with sauteed spring onions, porcini mushrooms and white frills mizuna, a mustard green that has a hint of wasabi flavor. I got it at the market from Let Us Farm--check out the picture.
And check out this picture below. Since I took the photography class I've learned to carry my camera with me at all times. This one was priceless. Thanks Leslie!