Monday, May 26, 2014

Red Quinoa Salad

Sometimes I don't know where my mind is. We went out to eat one Saturday, but I completely forgot that the next day, Sunday, even existed. So I certainly didn't have anything planned for dinner. Consequently, we didn't have anything much in the fridge for me to work with.

This is where having a well-stocked pantry comes in handy. I try to have several kinds of grains on hand, plus canned beans, sturdy vegetables like carrots and onions, and copious seasonings. The freezer is usually stocked with sausages of various types, chicken thighs, and frozen vegetables. I was feeling vegan, so opted only to use a box of kale from the freezer, which I combined with some red quinoa to make a salad. There were a couple of cara cara oranges in the fridge, which I had purchased weeks ago on a whim. Although I love oranges, I seldom eat them out of hand, so when I buy them, they tend to languish. I thought a nice orange vinaigrette, punched up with some lemon juice and champagne vinegar, would be a nice dressing for the bland kale and quinoa. I didn't want to waste the lovely pinkish orange flesh of the oranges, so rather than wring the juice out of them, I borrowed some of Mr Minx's orange juice (he likes to drink it with breakfast, while I prefer grapefruit juice).

Our chive plant was growing nicely (the only thing in our garden being productive besides a lone strawberry plant and a pack of ginormous, knee-high, dandelions that have taken over our cherry tomato planter) so I grabbed a handful, including the pretty lavender flowers, to add a bit of extra onion-y savor to the salad.

For something I made up as I went along, it was pretty damn good. I mean, really. It'd be a great dish to take to a party of vegetarians/vegans, and would be fantastic alongside a pork chop.

Red Quinoa Salad with Kale, Carrots, and Orange Vinaigrette

For vegetables:
1 cup onion, diced
Olive oil
Pinch salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup julienne carrots
1 box frozen chopped kale, thawed and squeezed dry

For quinoa:
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
Pinch salt

For dressing:
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Pinch cayenne
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
Splash champagne vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

To serve:
1 orange, cut into supremes
2 tablespoons snipped chives + whole  chive blossoms

To make vegetables: Cook the onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt over medium heat until translucent. Stir in the garlic and the carrots. Add the kale and stir well to combine. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes, until carrots are slightly soft and kale is warmed through.

To make quinoa: Combine quinoa, water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove quinoa from heat and allow to cool. When cool, transfer to a large bowl.

To make dressing: While quinoa is cooking, combine the orange and lemon juices, olive oil, cayenne, sugar, and vinegar in a bowl and beat vigorously with a fork to combine. Taste for seasoning, add pepper and salt to taste, keeping in mind that the dish will be served at room temperature or cold, so it should be well-seasoned.

To serve: Add vegetables to quinoa in bowl. Pour dressing over and mix well to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Toss in the orange supremes and chives. Eat at room temperature or cold.

Serves 4-6

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