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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nutty Quinoa Salad

Usually in the winter I want something warm and comforting; roasted squash, hearty soups or spiced cider. And no matter how much I’d been warned about the winter here in Pittsburgh, I was not prepared. Today, with the wind chill, it’s 0 degrees outside. What makes it feel so cold here and is noticeably different from DC is the wind that rips through you when you walk down the street.

Last night I was in the mood for something seasonal and refreshing, which is not usually what you think of in winter. So we made a salad with what we had in the refrigerator and it was delicious. This is one of those meals that you feel good after; lightly filled with nutritious food.

Nutty Quinoa Salad

-for the salad
1 cup of quinoa, rinsed thoroughly until the water runs clear
½ cup of raw hazelnuts
1 cup of pomegranate seeds
1 medium cucumber, diced
2 cups of fresh spinach leaves, washed

-for the dressing
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon of pomegranate molasses (optional)
Salt and pepper

Combine quinoa with 2 cups of water and some salt and bring to a boil. Add lid to the pot and turn the heat down to a simmer, for about 20 minutes (or until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid). Once cooked, set aside to cool.

Turn oven to 350 degrees. Toast hazelnuts on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Once they are finished, dump them into a dish towel and rub them to remove majority of the skins. Roughly chop them once they cool.

Add spinach leaves to a large bowl. Mix in quinoa, pomegranate, cucumber and hazelnuts.

Make dressing by putting oil, vinegar, pomegranate molasses and salt and pepper (to taste) in a small Tupperware container. Shake container until ingredients are well mixed.

Dress salad and serve immediately.

Alternatives: pine nuts instead of hazelnuts, dried cranberries instead of pomegranate seeds, bulgur instead of quinoa. Or add some crumbled goat cheese on top.