Ok, so according to the calendar, it may not be summer quite yet, but in California, the avocados are just starting to ripen, which is how I mark the start of the season. And when the weather starts getting warmer, I start turning to lighter, fresh meals. This quinoa-based salad is easy to prepare, and contains so many of my favorite healthy ingredients.
I’m always surprised that quinoa hasn’t caught on mainstream, given how easy it is too cook, and its high nutritional content. Despite the fact that in cooking it’s treated like rice or barley, quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain. Known as the staple of the Incas (and also a staple of the vegans, as it’s a complete protein), this crop originated in the Andes Mountains. It’s used more often in Mexican dishes, but I really enjoy it in this Asian-inspired salad.
The kale is chock full of iron and the nori is rich in calcium and iodine. If you opt for a fat-free dressing, then the only fat comes from the avocado. (Which is, you know, a good fat… at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m scarfing down guacamole.) Here’s the full recipe:
1 Cup uncooked quinoa
3 Stalks of kale
1 Sheet of dried nori
1/2 Cup pine nuts
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
Salad dressing to taste*
In a small point combine one cup quinoa with 2 cups of salted water and bring to a boil. Cover, and lower heat, simmering for about 15 minutes, or until all water has been absorbed.
While the quinoa cooks, remove the stems from the kale. Discard and chop the leaves finely, adding them to a large bowl. The nori can be difficult to cut, so you may find it easier to just break off very small pieces to add to the salad. You can leave the skin on the cucumber, but remove the seeds and chop into small pieces.
Add the pine nuts and sesame seeds to the kale, nori and cucumbers. Add the avocado last (as you don’t want it to brown). Halve it, remove peel and pit, and chop into small pieces. Add to the salad along with the vinegar and lemon juice. Once the quinoa has cooked, stir it with a fork and transfer to the fridge to cool.
*My short cut on this salad is that I use a pre-made dressing. My favorite is the organic Shiitake and Sesame Vinaigrette from Annie’s Naturals. They have a number of Asian-inspired dressings that would work well, and you could certainly make your own. (Any combo of soy, ginger, and sesame would be great.) Add the dressing to the salad, along with the quinoa once it has cooled.
As a full meal this serves two, but it would also be a great side dish. Because it’s served cold, it’s also a perfect meal to take to go. Take it to the office for lunch, or bring it along on your next picnic.
For some other light salads, check out these recipes: