This week was warmer than usual and is probably why some of the healthier and lighter ingredients have been pulled from the depths of the pantry. It is a perfect side dish to grilled chicken, pork, seafood, and vegetables. It also is a great vegetarian option since quinoa is an excellent source of protein. It also is high in fiber, b vitamins and iron.
This quinoa salad says Spring all over it. The lemon vinaigrette is absorbed by the warm quinoa and enhances the flavors of citrus. The fresh herbs and vegetables are simply a warm welcome to the months ahead when we have more options rather than our winter root vegetables. The salad can be served warm, at room temperature, and chilled from the refrigerator.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest from 2 lemons
1 shallot, minced
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbs chopped chives
2 tbs chopped parsley
1 c yellow cherry tomatoes (or an heirloom variety with color)
¼ c fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 green onions, sliced
Place one cup quinoa in a strainer and rinse well under cold water. In a large saucepan add 2 cups water and the rinsed quinoa. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. The quinoa can be cooked per package instructions if they differ from the above.
Meanwhile, fill another sauce pan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the cut asparagus and cook for one minute. The asparagus should be bright green and still a bit crisp if pierced with a knife. Drain and rinse immediately under very cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
Zest and juice the lemons. Place the lemon juice in a small bowl with the zest, minced shallot, chives, parsley, red chili flakes, and salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil and continue to whisk until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
When the quinoa is done cooking, let it sit for a minute before fluffing with a fork. Place the warm quinoa in a serving dish and drizzle with ¾’s of the vinaigrette. Stir to combine. The warm quinoa will absorb the lemony flavors. Add the asparagus, tomatoes, green onions, and basil to the quinoa and gently stir the ingredients. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the quinoa and sprinkle about 1/3 cup of feta on top.