Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring Quinoa Salad

First I must give thanks to the weather.

The cold and rain of last week let up just in time for my visit home, where I had the privilege of enjoying a couple of boat rides, visiting with old friends, and cooking up delicious treats on my parents' patio.

Then when I got back to town, we visited the arboretum down the road--now I'm thinking of opening a facility called "Arboretum and Weep!" It will be a devastating, tree-studded area.

But after a weekend of heavy eating and late nights/early mornings, it felt fantastic to return to my seasonal endeavors and serve up a light, tasty dinner.

I chose radishes for this week. With turnips and cauliflower, I opted to roast in order to make them more palatable. Here though, I wanted to appreciate the taste of the radish raw.

I knew I wanted to pair them with the asparagus in my refrigerator. When I saw a few recipes online uniting the two with quinoa, I remembered one of my favorite dishes to prepare--Quinoa and Pistachio Salad with Moroccan Pesto. 

After a bit of reconfiguration, I put together a dish with similar flavors but a few new highlights.

The pistachio pesto had a robust but springy flavor, heightened by garlic and lemon zest.

I readied my fresh vegetables before preparing the quinoa.

Then once the quinoa was fully cooked, I stirred in the pesto, then the asparagus, chickpeas, and radishes.

The pesto provided a garlicky, nutty boost to the quinoa--which I always like to cook with a little grapefruit juice--and I found the radishes to be not just a crunchy garnish, but a terrific receptacle for flavor.

So lovely too!

Spring Quinoa Salad
Serves 4 (as side).

3 cups uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup veggie broth
3/4 cup grapefruit juice
Pistachio Pesto
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
6 - 8 radishes, thinly sliced
1 cup chickpeas

Pistachio Pesto
1/2 cup cilantro
3/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, shelled
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Make pistachio pesto by combining all ingredients listed above in a food processor. Add more olive oil if needed. Reserve pesto in a bowl until quinoa is cooked.
2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook for 5 - 6 minutes until bright green. Transfer to bowl of ice water to stop cooking.
3. In another medium pot, bring water, broth, and grapefruit juice to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for fifteen minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.
4. Meanwhile, remove asparagus from ice water. Pat dry and cut into 1-inch stalks.
5. When quinoa is finished cooking, transfer it into a large bowl. Stir in pistachio pesto. Then add asparagus, chickpeas, and radishes.
6. Serve!

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