Monday, March 28, 2011

Making A Friend Happy and Healthy With a Fresh Quinoa Salad

This week I went to visit a good friend of mine who’s just had a baby. When I was in the same situation, nothing seemed to please me more than friends who showed up at my place with a surprise of good healthy food to fill my too often empty stomach. So when my friend told me I could pass by to see the newborn, I just felt I had to bring something to make her feel better. Something that would bring her all the good vitamins she most certainly needs. When you do this, the food needs to be really simple and straight to the point, and requires no onsite preparation. Which is why I thought of a salad. But if I made a regular salad, with lettuce, it would get soggy by the time I got to her home. Like I said, no onsite preparation also means no need for a bowl and utensils to add the dressing.

So I came up with the idea of a fresh quinoa salad. Refreshing and ultra nutritious, I think it was the perfect snack for the occasion. Quinoa is a high protein grain as well as a good source of dietary fibers. It’s gluten free and easy to digest. Effortless to prepare all sorts of way, quinoa is a great thing to always keep handy in your kitchen. These days, I much prefer it to rice as an accompaniment, mostly for it nutritious value.

I think my friend was happy with what I brought her. Although she couldn’t manage to sit down for more than 5 minutes to eat her salad, she did manage to eat a good portion of her daily vitamins, essential any time but even more when you’re breastfeeding. And I was certainly a happy camper to know this salad was also my lunch. Not only did I do a good deed, but I did satisfy my hunger at the same time! 

Makes 2 servings

1 cup quinoa
2 star anise
2 cardamoms
2 cloves (clou de girofle)
2 cups light chicken broth

1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt  & pepper

¼ white onion, finely chopped
8 small vine tomatoes, quartered
2 small Lebanese cucumbers cut in small pieces
4 celery branches, finely chopped
½ jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
2 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
2 oranges cut in small pieces

Rinse the quinoa. In a small skillet, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the quinoa, star anise, cardamoms, and cloves. Cook for about 20 minutes or as indicated on the package. Once ready, let cool.

In a small bowl, blend the mustard with the vinegar. Slowly add the olive oil until you obtain a thick texture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a bowl, mix the white onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, jalapeno and about 1 cup of cooked quinoa. Add the dressing and mix well. Finish by adding the coriander and oranges and mix gently.

NOTE: I like to prepare my quinoa in advance. You can make it a day ahead or even use leftovers to make the salad.

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