Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sweet and Savory Quinoa Salad

Make-ahead recipes to keep you going strong! 

If food was fashion, then quinoa is the new black…and it looks good on you.  Touted as one of the healthiest and most diverse foods on the market, as well as a pantry staple for many of today’s top celebrities, quinoa is the perfect addition to the Sexi menu.  It’s loaded with fiber and protein as well as a slew of other nutrients such as iron and amino acids to keep you satiated even in a time crunch.  Its subtle flavor makes it the perfect canvas to create a flavor profile to suit any and all palates, and the fact that it’s gluten free makes it a welcome addition even to specialized diets.

So why this particular combination?  Long story short, this one’s got it all. The sweet, the savory, the nutty, the herbs…simple yet sophisticated ingredients that meld together into a perfectly orchestrated symphony of flavors. Great for making ahead and storing in the refrigerator, you can count on this salad to keep you going throughout the week.  Little effort, big flavor and nutrition! You may even make an extra batch to share with your colleagues or bring to a social event.  Just be prepared when your dish becomes the topic of interest and your guests are begging you to share your quinoa know-how. You food fashionista, you.

Sweet and Savory Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 ¼ cup red grapes, halved
1 cup crumbles low-fat or fat free feta cheese
¼ cup basil, julienned

In a fine meshed colander or strainer, rinse quinoa under water until water runs clear. In a large pot, combine quinoa and stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium low and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with fork. Gently fold in pine nuts, grapes, feta, and basil. Can be served warm or cold. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

*Notes about this recipe:
-Don’t be afraid to make this the night ahead and leave it in the refrigerator-the flavors only improve with time!   

-Play with flavors! The great thing about quinoa besides the many nutrition bonuses is that you can customize flavors to suit what you like. Other delicious options may include mandarin oranges instead of grapes, or cucumber and fresh dill or chopped apples and finely cubed gouda instead of grapes and basil.