Quinoa with Citrus-Soaked Dried Fruit & Mint (Gluten-Free)

April 14, 2010 § 2 Comments

I cannot begin to dole out enough effusive adjectives for this little salad.  And I’d like to point out that I’m rather surprised I like it as well as I do.  Generally speaking, I don’t get particularly – or even remotely – excited about quinoa, and I’m really not a big fan of mint (except in a watermelon & feta salad). But I have a surfeit of the former and an overzealous mint plant in my backyard, so I decided to cut a couple of stems, whittle-down my grain stash and dabble with a new salad experiment.

Out of all the salads I’ve made in recent months, this one may be the most addictive.  While I can usually eke out four lunches from a salad this size, I happily polished off this salad in half the days. What won me over – more than the crunch of toasted walnuts and the delicate plumpness of citrus-soaked dried blueberries and cherries – was the superb flavor from the Meyer lemons.  Meyer lemons have an almost-orange-like taste about them, yet they still provide a sour zing.  But, if you can’t find them at your farmers’ market or local supermarket, try squeezing one lemon and one orange and using the combined juice for this salad.

Two final notes: Don’t skimp on the salt and pepper – they’re crucial for rounding out the flavor.  Lastly, while this salad is tasty both hot and cold, it really shines at room temperature or just slightly warmed.  I suggest preparing this salad 2 hours before serving time.

Ingredients:
zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons
1 cup dried quinoa
1 cup dried berries (dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries, etc.)
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup mint, chopped
1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
sea salt, pepper to taste

Methods:

1.  In a 2:1 ratio of water to dried quinoa, fill a pot with water and quinoa on the stove and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook quinoa for 15-18 minutes until tender.

2.  Meanwhile, toast walnuts on the stove in a brimmed, oil-free skillet until fragrant (about 5-7 minutes).  Alternatively, bake in the oven for the same amount of time at 375 degrees.  Chop in rough pieces and set aside.

3.  Place dried fruit in a bowl with lemon zest.  Cover berries with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and stir, thoroughly incorporating the liquid with the berries.

4.  Chop mint and parsley.  When quinoa has finished cooking, fluff with a fork and dump in a large bowl.  Combine with walnuts, citrus-soaked berries and herbs.  Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt (at least 1/4 teaspoon) and several cracks of pepper.  Combine with a tablespoon of fruity olive oil (or more) and taste.  Add additional Meyer lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve at room temperature.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan

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