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"Superfood" Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

La Petite Maison Verte: "Superfood" Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Superfood" Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

This recipe was inspired by a "Superfood Salad" I came across on Pinterest.  As soon as I saw it I knew I had to make it ASAP.  Luckily, I already had all of the main ingredients on hand and what I didn't have, I was able to swap with some other fresh produce from my fruit bowl.  

As beautiful as it is delicious, it's a healthy and satisfying lunch or dinner.  Such a great combination of sweet and tangy yet garlicky (is that really a word?  spell-check isn't correcting it! ha!) and savory at the same time.

I'm always up for trying out a new salad recipe for using Quinoa since it's a super-food AND mighty delicious.  Packing in both protein and fiber, quinoa is a fabulous and versatile grain which you can easily slip into your daily routine in place of rice, couscous or other carbohydrates that aren't as nutrient-dense.  Heads up, quinoa can have a bitter taste to it if not prepared correctly so it is very important to rinse it well with water before cooking.  See my instructions below for cooking quinoa perfectly every time (Credit to Jenn of Peas & Crayons for the flawless quinoa cooking technique!).

The original recipe calls for you to prepare your quinoa, cool it and then mix in a homemade lemon vinaigrette dressing along with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables:  red onion, oranges, avocado, black beans, pomegranate seeds, corn and cilantro.  I substituted sliced green onions for the red, clementines for the oranges and ripe strawberries for the pomegranate seeds (Strawberries are ALREADY in season in Florida, hence the reason I had some.  One more reason to love living here!).  I think grapefruit would also make a delicious citrus substitution and I'll bet blueberries would be DIVINE instead of the pomegranates or strawberries.  The possibilities are endless, I'll leave it to your imagination to come up with your own delicious combination.

I was lucky enough to have a couple of ears of sweet corn leftover in my freezer from the summertime.  I simply blanched them quickly in some boiling water, then cut the corn off the cob and allowed it to cool.  You could certainly use frozen corn kernels.

Since we were eating this salad for dinner, I added some cooked shrimp on top for a little extra protein.  I just thawed some peeled and de-veined, wild caught shrimp then tossed them with a couple tablespoons of the prepared lemon vinaigrette, some salt and pepper and broiled them for about 4 minutes on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Grilled chicken or marinated, grilled thinly-sliced sirloin would also be delicious on top.

I picked up these (wild caught!) Key West shrimp on Sale at Whole Foods!  They are pink when they're raw, so cute.

Superfood Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
serves 4-5
adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

1 cup dry quinoa (I'm a fan of Bob's Red Mill brand)
1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion, white and green parts
2 clementines, peeled and chopped (or substitute 1 orange)
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup cooked black beans (drained and rinsed, if using canned)
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup thawed or fresh corn kernels
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper
Cooked shrimp, chicken or steak (optional, for serving)

For the lemon vinaigrette:

1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon, juiced)
2 garlic cloves, microplaned or very finely minced
1 teaspoon agave nectar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Prepare the quinoa:  Rinse quinoa very well under running water in a sieve or fine mesh strainer.  Allow quinoa to air-dry for 15 minutes or longer (this step is optional but highly recommended).  Transfer rinsed and drained quinoa to a sauce pan and toast on medium heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring.  You don't want the quinoa to brown, you are just removing any excess moisture from the grains.  Add 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth to the pot and bring to a boil.  Season with salt, cover and reduce heat to low.  Allow to simmer 12 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.  Remove lid, fluff with a fork and allow quinoa to cool fully.

Prepare the lemon vinaigrette:  Combine all ingredients for vinaigrette in a bowl and whisk together, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Assembly:  Combine cooled quinoa with green onion, chopped clementines, avocado, beans, sliced strawberries, corn and cilantro. Pour lemon vinaigrette over the salad and stir to combine, season with salt and pepper as necessary.  Top with cooked shrimp, chicken or steak, if using.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Shrimp on top!

Updated 6/20/12:  By request, here are the nutrition facts for the salad.  

For one serving (the above recipe, split into 4 portions):  Calories 390, Fat 10 grams, Fiber 12 grams, Protein 17 grams.   For the dressing, add about 60 calories and 6 grams of fat per tablespoon.

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At January 25, 2012 at 9:16 AM , Anonymous Chrissie said...

Hey, Julia! I just stumbled across your blog while sitting at my desk at work eating a bowl of quinoa/spinach salad! So funny. Yours looks much more super-foody and diverse, though! I will have to try your recipe.

Your site is too cute! can't wait to read more.

At January 25, 2012 at 10:59 AM , Anonymous Jules said...

Thanks for the kind words, Chrissie. I had the leftover salad for lunch today on top of mixed greens - it was SO good, even better the second day. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

At January 25, 2012 at 12:57 PM , Anonymous my little celebration said...

This looks amazing! I saw it on Kristin's site and thought it looked so good, too.

At January 25, 2012 at 2:17 PM , Anonymous Jules said...

As good as it looks (pretty darn good), it TASTES even better! Thanks for stopping by the blog!

At January 25, 2012 at 2:30 PM , Anonymous whitney - see shop eat do said...

this salad sounds perfect! There isn't much that I like better than a giant yummy salad. thanks for sharing!

At January 25, 2012 at 2:52 PM , Anonymous Jules said...

You're welcome, and thanks for stopping by! This salad is super-filling, which I love, it kept me full all afternoon when I ate the leftovers :-)

At January 25, 2012 at 4:59 PM , Anonymous Caitlin said...

Julia!!! I can't believe you made this salad already! It looks AMAZING! i'm going to have to try it out sometime very soon. your photos are also looking great!! MM you've inspired me!

At January 25, 2012 at 5:37 PM , Anonymous Jules said...

Thank you, Caitlin! It was so delicious, I hope you do try it!

At June 19, 2012 at 11:56 AM , Anonymous Annette said...

Can we get the nutrition info on this? Mostly calories and fat grams?

At June 20, 2012 at 5:29 AM , Anonymous Jules said...

Hi Annette, I don't count calories so I usually don't calculate them for my recipes. Since you asked me to, I went ahead and did it for this one. I used . I posted the nutrition information at the very bottom of the post, for your reference. Have a great day :-)


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