Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Autumn Quinoa Salad

We've only just returned from Italy. Our bags are still being unpacked, the laundry sorted and we're rediscovering those wonderful souvenirs that are inviting us to revisit our trip. I haven't had a minute to go to the grocery and I don't want to call out for food delivery. 
The weather has been unseasonably warm and we both need to drop those few extra pounds we put on in Italy. What's a woman to do? Raid her dying garden and put together a healthy salad.

 I thought quinoa would be a good start since 2013 is being recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization to be The International Year of the Quinoa. 
Quinoa is simple to prepare, versatile and healthy. It's nutty flavor is easy to pair with almost any dish. 
Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain. But is used as a grain in many dishes. According to  The World's Healthiest Foods website it's a complete protein that's high in fiber,calcium, iron and magnesium. 
To cook the Quinoa follow the instructions on the box. Be sure to rinse the Quinoa under water to remove the bitter outer coating.  Cook it in water or stock and be sure to add salt and fresh herbs for flavor. Once cooked let it stand at least 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Once cooked it should have a bit of crunch.
In the garden I had swiss chard, chives and parsley. In my pantry I found walnuts, raisins and dried cranberries. The lone Gala apple on my table provided more color, crunch and flavor. 

I cooked the quinoa, chopped the herbs, cut the rib from the swiss chard leaves and thinly sliced it (I saved the leaves for dinner). I diced the apple and tossed in the dried fruit and walnuts. I prepared a quick vinaigrette out of apple cider vinegar, grape seed oil, shallots and bit of honey. Tossed and served out of doors it was the perfect lunch for a warm, autumn afternoon. 

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