Gluten-free,  Salads

Citrus Red Quinoa Salad

When the Carnival Season comes to a close with Fat Tuesday’s feasting and all that is left from my King Cake is crumbs and jewels, it’s definitely time to slow down the pace, clean up the eating and begin the Lent Season.  I do observe these 40 days of Lent starting on Ash Wednesday and leading up to Easter.

Abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday, I am looking forward to cooking and sharing many of my fish and seafood recipes and veggie main dishes.  And so my daughter doesn’t feel like her only option is eating tuna fish, I’m posting this salad for her as I heard the slight panic in her voice the other day when we were chatting over the phone about meatless meals.  Her long busy day running from classes to work to all her activities does make it hard for her to take the time to eat well.  And she knows that getting enough protein in her meals helps her stay fuller longer.

Quinoa is a perfect little grain, actually a seed; that is a complete protein and a great source of nutrients.   I’ve purchased both the white quinoa and red quinoa, now preferring the red more for salads.  But either will work well, as I used the white in my Quinoa Tabbouleh .  For this salad I kept it light and citrusy with chopped oranges, green onion, bell peppers and pine nuts for crunch, but the possibilities are endless; from dried fruits to chopped raw or cooked veggies, various fresh herbs and chunks of cheese.

Citrus Red Quinoa Salad

2 cups red quinoa, rinsed well
3 1/2 cups water

Pinch of Kosher salt

Zest from 1 large orange, then peel and roughly chop orange segments

1 red or orange bell pepper, diced

1-2 green onions, finely chopped

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

For the vinaigrette:

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice or lemon juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon minced fresh ginger

Pinch of cumin

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine well rinsed quinoa and water in a saucepan.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Fluff the quinoa with a fork and spread out evenly on a baking sheet to cool completely.  Prepare the vinaigrette by combining all in glass jar and shaking well.  Combine the cooked quinoa with the remaining ingredients, dressing lightly with some of the vinaigrette tossing to combine well.   Season to taste with the salt and pepper.  Serves 6.

I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.

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