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Nourishing quinoa salad

We are having a fantastic break from winter’s grey gloom around here. Last Saturday, stunning as it was, pretty much set the pace for the entire week to follow. On Tuesday morning, I tiptoed outside with my breakfast and ate bathed in the warm morning sun, something I haven’t been able to do since October. For someone as easily effected by the seasons as I, it was a welcome change. 

On another note, the break I’ve been giving my body for the past week has left me feeling so alive, there’s no way I could not share some of my meals with you. I haven’t really been cleansing in the way that we usually think of the term, but I feel cleansed nonetheless. Nourished, sustained, refreshed, and better. Happier, even. 

This salad doesn’t differ from something I might make on any normal day, cleanse or no cleanse, but it’s my favorite lunch of the moment and I’ve been making it often. It has got a little bit of everything– salty, sweet, nutty, fresh, very flavorful, and comforting in its own unique way. The different textures from the dried fruit, pomegranates and beans and the way they work together make it something of a masterpiece.

Red quinoa is higher in antioxidants than the more common white variety, but either will work here. Also, when you’re wrestling with a pomegranate, here are a few words of caution: Wear an apron. Do not wear a shirt you like even a little bit. Do not use a white cutting board, and place a few layers of paper towel on top of your work surface before you begin. A note on the greens: I used kale and spinach, but feel free to use any you like. Mustard greens might be nice. I recently learned that massaging raw kale with your hands and some olive oil causes it to wilt and ‘cook’ down a bit, which is what I’ve been doing to make it more manageable in a salad. Yum! 

Nourishing Quinoa Salad :: Makes 1 generous serving

Ingredients: 2-3 leaves curly kale, stems removed, chopped handful spinach leaves, chopped 1/2 cup cooked red quinoa 1/4 cup pistachios seeds from 1/2 pomegranate 1/3 cup cooked black beans 3 dried figs, chopped  3 dried apricots, chopped

 Dressing: 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon honey 1 teaspoon dijon mustard (optional)

In a medium bowl, place kale and a drizzle of olive oil. Massage with your hands, rubbing oil into the leaves, for a few minutes until slightly wilted. Set aside and prep remaining ingredients.

Add spinach, quinoa, pistachios, pomegranate seeds, black beans, and dried fruit to the bowl with the kale. Make a dressing with the olive oil, vinegar, honey and dijon, whisking vigorously or shaking in a small container. Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss to combine. Season with freshly ground black pepper.