Saturday, January 08, 2011

Beet, Blood Orange and Quinoa Salad

Austerity measures.

At Christmas, my parents kept mentioning this phrase, not in regards to the current economies of Ireland and Greece, but in regards to our plans for January foods. I've taken this thought home with me. After the indulgences of Christmas and the inevitable pounds that come with it, dietary austerity measures are definitely required.

Thankfully, austerity has little to do with deliciousness.

In my frenzy of citrus purchases last week, I was really excited to get a good batch of blood oranges. Last year, when I last bought them, they were a total disappointment. They were orange on the outside and orange on the inside.

Where's that crimson colour, I ask you. Where's the ox blood?

So, when I sliced off the rinds of the blood oranges, I was met with a happy sight.


Just look at that pulp! I love the combination of burgundy and bright yellowy oranges.


And the gradation of colour from top to bottom! Nothing excites me so much in food as colour.

Anyway, let me introduce you to today's recipe. It's a gorgeous salad, filled with lots of different colours and textures.

One of the great things about it is it uses quinoa. Quinoa is one of those amazing pre-Colombian grains that's enjoyed a modern resurgence. The Incas held it to be sacred, though once the Spanish showed up, they forbade them from growing it. Quinoa is one of those rare grains that has a high protein content, but on top of that, unlike other grains like oat or wheat, it also has a balanced set of amino acids, making it a complete protein. It's high in fiber, gluten-free and (apparently) easy to digest.

It's so awesome that NASA is considering it as a crop to try and grow up in space.

So, if you haven't tried it yet, what the heck are you waiting for?

Beet, Blood Orange and Quinoa Salad

Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

Dressing:

1/4  cup  finely chopped green onions
2  teaspoons  grated blood orange rind
1  teaspoon  grated lemon rind
2  tablespoons  blood orange juice
1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  ground coriander
1/4  teaspoon  ground cumin
1/4  teaspoon  paprika
2  tablespoons oil (a neutral vegetable like canola or something stronger like olive oil)

Salad:

1  cup uncooked quinoa (I used a mixture of white and black quinoa)
1 3/4  cups  water
1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
1  cup  blood orange sections, chopped (about 4 medium)
1 avocado, chopped
6  whole kumquats, seeded and sliced
2  medium beets, cooked and cut into wedges*
*To cook beets, scrub whole beets (remove most of the tops), wrap in foil and bake at 375ยบ until tender, 25-45 minutes (it really depends on the beet)

Preparation

1. To prepare dressing, combine first 10 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Set aside.

2. To prepare salad, place quinoa in a fine sieve, and place sieve in a large bowl. Cover quinoa with water. Using your hands, rub grains together for 30 seconds; rinse and drain. Repeat procedure twice. Drain well.

Rinsed quinoa

3. Combine 1 3/4 cups water, quinoa, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork.

Chopping the avocado
Combine quinoa, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, blood orange sections, avocado, and kumquats in a large bowl, tossing gently to combine.

Just before adding the quinoa. Check out those kumquat slices!
Add dressing; toss gently to coat salad. Spoon 1 cup salad onto each of 4 plates; top each serving with about 1/2 cup beets.

The finished salad
 A vibrant salad for a cold January day.

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