Monday, July 30, 2012

Moroccan Inspired Quinoa Salad

It's hot. Muggy, rainy, sweltering hot. I knew when I was grocery shopping yesterday that I'd want to make a quinoa salad. They can be packed with nutritious things and enjoyed cold or room temp for days. I have had zero luck with mangoes being ripe of late so the beloved black bean mango quinoa salad was out. Besides, it was time to take off the training wheels where quinoa salad recipes go and come up with one of my own!

I had the pleasure of having friends over for dinner, one of which would be bringing a slow roasted cauliflower and white bean curry soup. Wanting something to compliment the curry my brain went straight to Moroccan. Why? I have no idea, but the results were fantastic!

I am terrible at measuring when creating something new so as to share a formal recipe, but here's basically what I did (I knew I should have snapped pics for each addition, had a feeling this would be worth sharing!):

Cook one cup of dry quinoa in vegetable broth. I always keep a mix of red and white quinoa in my pantry in the same container as I love the way it comes out visually and the red keeps its form a bit better than the white. I used Better Than Bullion Vegetable base in water for my broth.

While that cooked I took out a small bowl and zested one large lemon, and squeezed out all the juice into the bowl. I smashed and finely chopped two cloves of garlic and added that to the dressing. Next I added a heavy pinch or two of course sea salt, maybe a half of a tsp of ground cumin, about a scant half tsp of Hungarian paprika (that and smoked is all I ever have on hand), two dashes of cinnamon, and a tsp or so of agave nectar. Stirred that up and whisked in 1-2 T of olive oil (I am not a fan of extra virgin except for bread dipping so mine is the extra mild variety), and set that aside.

Once the quinoa is cooked, remove from heat and set in refrigerator while chopping other ingredients. How much of each? Well, that's entirely up to you. I tend to chop, add, toss and make sure it looks like there will be a bit of each ingredient in every bite. That said, I added:

fresh cilantro
fresh parsley
fresh mint
(I'd say, finely chopped, there was a total of 1/8-14 c. of herbs added)
red onion, chopped fine
pitted and chopped kalamata olives
organic raisins
organic grape tomatoes, quartered
chickpeas, rinsed, drained and outer skin removed (for me, eating leftover salad, I enjoy the chickpeas best if their texture is not full of that skin)
chopped almonds (raw and unsalted)

I added the dressing, tossed, and let it sit out, covered until we were ready to dine accompanied by bread, more olives, roasted garlic hummus, dried tomatoes cured in olive oil, and that amazing cauliflower and white bean soup. Best meal ever after grocery shopping and running errands in torrential downpours mixed with moments of pure muggy.

The texture of the salad was full of slight crunch and soft bites and the flavors hit all the things I love about Moroccan flavored dishes. It paired perfectly with the curry in the soup and is even better the next day (oh yeah, best lunch right now while I type!). I suggest eating it at room temerature when the flavors can really shine.

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