Last week, I had the pleasure of teaching a quick cooking class to the women of the Highlands NC Garden Club. We tossed up several delicious salads and served them along with some mint green tea and a mini lemon yogurt cupcake. I was surprised at so many of the group did not know what quinoa is – or how to cook and use it. Shayna and I love quinoa, and it’s shows up in many different guises – hot and cold as a side, salad or even a main course. Quinoa is the seed of the goosefoot plant, that is used as a grain. It is as easy to cook as rice and the most complete grain – containing all 9 amino acids. Even a few years ago it might be difficult to find, but now it’s available in almost every grocery store. Here’s a delicious recipe incorporating fresh herbs and quinoa. Serve as a summer dinner for a cool and delicious change!

Pomegranate Quinoa Salad
2 Cups Quinoa, Rinsed
1 Can Chickpeas, Drained and Rinsed
1 Cup Pomegranate Seeds, (or 1 Cup Dried Cranberries)
4 Green Onions, Thinly Sliced
1 Fennel Bulb, Thinly Sliced
1 Cup Toasted Walnut Pieces
2 TB Pomegranate Molasses
1 Tsp Whole Grain Mustard
¼ Cup Sherry Vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TB Chopped Parsley
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to Taste
1 ½ Cups Crumbled Feta Cheese
1 Bag Baby Spinach
Step One Place the 2 cups Quinoa and 4 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until almost all the water is absorbed, (until it is translucent but still has a bit of crunch), about 7-10 minutes. Drain well.
Step Two While the quinoa is drying, combine the pomegranate syrup, mustard, vinegar, oil and parsley in a jar and shake well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Step Three
Combine the quinoa with the chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, onions, fennel and walnuts in a large serving bowl. Toss the salad with the dressing, beginning with half of the dressing and then toss, adding dressing as needed. Plate the quinoa on a small bed of spinach and serve

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