Monday, February 11, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Sides and Salads Monday

A Mediterranean Quinoa Salad recipe caught my eye recently because it listed kalamata olives, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil and parsley.  I guess it was the parsley that got me.  Curly parsley is one of my favorites.  I just don't get why everyone flocks to the Italian flat leaf when curly parsley is way much better.

It's also super easy to grow (at least in the Northwest).  It takes little care, it's more like a cultivated weed that we harvest it year round. 

Curly parsley is also one of the most nutritious greens around.  It's a rich source of antioxidants, beta carotene, vitamin C, folic acid and B-complex vitamins.   It also had anti-inflammatory components and had been reported to help with arthritis. And curly parsley doesn't taste as strong or bitter as the popular flat leaf parsley.

Spring parsley

Winter parsley
When you've got this much parsley in your yard, begging to be harvested, it's time to find a recipe.   

High Quality Ingredients

I like to use a good quality olive oil, and I've been using this excellent extra-virgin olive oil from Spain produced by Manuel Molina Munoz e Hijos.  It was sent as a gift, so I'm not sure where you can purchase it in the Northwest, but check the website online because this oil makes a great gift for any chef or foodie.


Winter is the season for citrus, so why not use blood oranges.  The flesh is brilliant in color and the flavor is more complex than a regular orange.

My cooking assistant gives blood oranges four paws up.  The only drawback is they are small so it can  take two oranges to make a quarter of a cup. You can follow conventional directions about how to make a vinaigrette, but these standard recipes usually call for a ratio of 3 to 1--oil to vinegar.  I try to reverse that because the purpose of the oil is so the dressing will cling to the ingredient not to flood the salad with oil.  A good vinaigrette is a balance of five flavors--salty, sweet, sour, spicy and pungent.   (Think garlic or ginger for pungent.)

Salad Composition

Also think about colors when composing salads, since unlike dogs, we tend to eat with our eyes first.  I used a few Mama Lil's peppers,  some sundried tomatoes and of course kalamata olives, which I always keep on hand to add to soups and salads.

I cook millet with quinoa because it adds variety and it's a money saver.  Millet never costs as much as quinoa and it cooks in the same amount of time, so I always use them together.

To finish the salad I like to garnish with toasted nuts because it gives the salad more texture.  For this salad,  I used some Thai roasted cashews for an exotic touch.

A salad like this can be served on the side or as a main dish.  We had spicy marinated tofu with shiitake mushrooms, carrots and cabbage. Which was the main dish and which was the side dish?  We didn't care.  It was a grand night of vegetables at our house.

Quinoa Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette 

(Serves 4)

2 cups water
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup millet, rinsed
5 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
4 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1 teaspoon veganaise or garlic aiolii
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped Mama Lil's peppers (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup toasted nuts (cashews, pecans, walnuts, or pine nuts)

1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil.  Place quinoa, millet, tomatoes, garlic powder, sea salt, and cayenne in the boiling water.  Bring to a second boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until water is absorbed.  Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir in kalamata olives.

2. While mixture cools, prepare dressing.  Combine orange juice, wine vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic and olive oil.  Stir until well blended.  Add Mama Lil's peppers, sea salt and pepper to taste.  Blend in parsley.  Top with toasted nuts, if desired.

1 comment:

Miz Helen said...

Hi Debra,
The Blood Orange Vinaigrette looks delicious. I just love the Blood Oranges, and looks like Finn loves them also. Hope you are having a great Valentine Weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen