Thursday, May 17, 2012

Simple and Delicious Family Cooking: Quinoa Vegetable Salad with Orange-Garlic Vinaigrette

My family is mainly vegetarian. We eat a lot of plant-based proteins, vegetables, and whole grains. Even so, it took me until just the other week to try quinoa (pronounced "KEEN-wah") for the first time. Quinoa is a whole grain similar to bulgur and barley, but it happens to be the only grain that's also a complete protein. In other words, it's fabulous for you in many ways. Inspired by a standby recipe in Jeanne Lemlin's Quick Vegetarian Pleasures cookbook (my copy of which is about 15 years old and totally falling apart), I made this entree salad on a recent warm day for a cool, hearty-yet-refreshing dinner. Leftovers are great the next day, too. Serve this yummy entree with popovers or corn muffins and a green or fruit salad on the side.

Quinoa Vegetable Salad with Orange-Garlic Vinaigrette
serves 6

1-1/2 cups dry uncooked quinoa
3 cups water
1 tsp. garam masala (an Indian spice mix) or turmeric
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
2/3 cup chopped walnut pieces
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 to 2 cups fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive or grapeseed oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
rind of one orange, grated (avoid white pith)
2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste

Place quinoa and water in a large saucepan and bring to a full boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Stir in garam masala or turmeric and raisins or cranberries; let sit 5 more minutes.

Transfer cooked quinoa to a large bowl. Add walnuts, chickpeas, scallions, and tomatoes. Fold into quinoa mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, orange rind, basil, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine well, until oil is emulsified. Pour dressing over quinoa-vegetable mixture; stir well to coat.

Refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving.

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