Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quinoa and Asparagus Salad

Recipe: Quinoa and Asparagus Salad

Quinoa is one food item which I have never had much success with, mainly because I haven't done my research into how to prepare it. The few times which I made quinoa, and a pilaf is one which I remember, it had a slightly “off” and “bitter” taste. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that this grain needs to be soaked or toasted prior to cooking to avoid the bitterness (which, it seems, that some people are more sensitive to than others. Like cilantro, I guess.). I purchased a bulk quantity at the food co-op a couple of weeks ago, and this attempt at quinoa was much more successful.

Native to South America and quite high in fiber, protein, and iron, quinoa is sometimes called a “superfood”. It is also a complete protein because it contains a balanced set of amino acids.

Because our garden continues to spew forth asparagus at an rate with which we can barely keep up, I decided to make a warm quinoa salad containing asparagus. Jack loves all flavors Asian, so I added a soy-based dressing and was very pleased with the results.

Toasting the quinoa eliminated all traces of bitterness and gave it a wonderful flavor, the asparagus was crisp, the dressing added a salty piquant finish, and almonds gave a nice, crunchy texture. I thought that perhaps it could be served cool, but Jack said that he would prefer it warm. Either way, it was a perfect lunch dish, or could also be a dinner side.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Quinoa and Asparagus Salad

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

---------- ---------- ----------------------------------------

5 ounces asparagus -- 1" diagonal pieces (about 1 1/2 cups); split the thicker stalks

6 ounces diced red bell pepper -- (about 3/4 cup)-- I used orange...

3 large green onions -- slice white and light green parts into 1/2" diagonal slices; also slice some
of the green tops thinly as a garnish

1 1/2 cups quinoa

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup low sodium vegetable broth

2 tablespoons water

2 large garlic cloves -- crushed

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

3/4 teaspoon sesame oil

3/4 teaspoon minced ginger

1/2 teaspoon Sriacha sauce -- (or chile-garlic paste)

2 tablespoons sliced almonds -- toasted

In a nonstick skillet, sauté the asparagus for 2 minutes, add the onion and red bell pepper, and continue to sauté until vegetables are slightly softened yet still crisp (approximately 3 additional minutes). Remove to a plate to cool slightly.

In a large dry skillet, toast quinoa over a medium flame, shaking and stirring often, until golden (about 5 minutes). A few of the quinoa grains will pop out of the pan during this time. While quinoa is toasting, heat the vegetable broth and water to boiling.

Turn off the flame under the skillet and add the hot water/broth. Turn on the heat again, bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 12 minutes. Do not remove lid-- turn off heat and allow quinoa to steam for 6 minutes. All liquid should have been absorbed.

Add the vegetables to the quinoa and mix.

In a small bowl combine the 2 tablespoons water through hot sauce. Pour over quinoa mixture and toss well. Divide between 2 plates, sprinkle with almonds and reserved green onion tops; serve.

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Per serving: 614 Calories (kcal); 14g Total Fat, 1g Saturated Fat (19% calories from fat); 27g Protein; 100g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 599mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 6 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 2 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : Makes 2 main dish servings