Citrus Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa & Cumin Lime Vinaigrette

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With sunny weather finally here, I have moved on from steaming hot soups to fresh seasonal salads and lighter dishes.  This citrus and kale salad is loaded with flavor and textures.  The cumin lime vinaigrette is a perfect complement to the creamy avocado and zesty citrus while the crispy quinoa adds a delightful crunch as well as a healthy dose of protein and vitamins.  Once you try crispy quinoa, you will never go back to croutons and their empty calories.  Even if you aren’t a fan of quinoa, you might be surprised by how different it tastes once it’s been ‘crisped’ in olive oil.

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This is my favorite time of year, when my garden comes to life. The month of May is a wonderful overlapping of seasons.  Spring blooming plants like rhododendron and azalea are still in full bloom and summer roses are just beginning to emerge creating a gorgeous riot of color.

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My vegetable garden is loaded with greens.  You can just see the chickens photobombing in the background.

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Recent warmer nights are allowing tomatoes to retain blossoms and artichokes are sending up their first stalks, so stay tuned for new artichoke dishes this spring.  We will tackle tomatoes later in the summer. when they are ripe and abundant.

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Let’s circle back to today’s green salad.  It’s very easy to prepare with only a few really good ingredients.  I have gotten in the habit of making more quinoa than I need and freeze one cup servings which makes it easy to add to salads, soups and chili.  Just defrost and you’re good to go.  I prefer using red quinoa for this purpose since I like it’s flavor and texture better than white quinoa, but you could also try using the tri-color quinoa which could make an interesting salad.

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CITRUS GREEN SALAD WITH CRISPY QUINOA

  • 1/2 cup red quinoa (1 cup cooked)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 cups baby kale or mixed greens
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 small red onion (or 3 scallions)

CUMIN LIME VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste

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  • Cook quinoa according to directions. For more flavor, use vegetable broth instead of water. Drain on papertowels to prevent splattering.

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  • Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet and ‘fry’ quinoa on medium heat until crispy, 5 to 10 minutes.  Season with salt. Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Wash greens and arrange in a large salad bowl.

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  • Sprinkle cooled quinoa over greens.

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  • Using a sharp knife, remove peel and slice the oranges into rounds and then bite sized pieces.

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  • Slice avocado into bite sized pieces.

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  • Thinly slice red onion and add to salad along with orange segments and avocado.

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  • Whisk together (or use a shaker) all vinaigrette ingredients and dress salad just before serving.

Citrus Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20170506_204259

CITRUS GREEN SALAD WITH CRISPY QUINOA

  • 1/2 cup red quinoa (1 cup cooked)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 cups baby kale or mixed greens
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 small red onion (or 3 scallions)

CUMIN LIME VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  1. Cook quinoa according to directions. Drain on papertowels to prevent splattering.
  2. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet and fry quinoa on medium heat until crispy, 5 to 10 minutes.  Season with salt. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Wash greens and arrange in a large salad bowl.
  4. Sprinkle cooled quinoa over greens.
  5. Using a sharp knife, remove peel and slice the oranges into rounds and then bite sized pieces.
  6. Slice avocado into bite sized pieces.
  7. Thinly slice red onion and add to salad along with orange segments and avocado.
  8. Whisk together (or use a shaker) all vinaigrette ingredients and dress salad just before serving.

Wheatless Wednesday – Winter Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa

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New year equals new ideas.  The holidays might be over but that doesn’t mean the presents have to stop!  I finally decided to order a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box loaded with produce fresh from a local farm delivered right to my door – And my first one came today!  Even though I was the one to order it, I still felt ridiculously excited to see two boxes with their mystery contents at my doorstep this morning when I got up. It felt like Christmas and Hanukkah all over again.  Some of us will go to great lengths to extend the holiday season…  For those that don’t know, CSA is an alternative ‘farm to table’ method for distribution of produce. Consumers sign up with a local company who arranges personalized home delivery of organically and locally grown fruits and vegetables.  I signed with Farm Fresh to You, who supplies produce from Capay Organic Farm located about 90 miles Northeast of San Francisco.  I chose the Traditional CSA Box but they offer many types and sizes of boxes, like Fruit or Vegetable Only, even a ‘No Cooking Box’.  I decided to try this for a few reasons.  First, I love fresh produce and in the winter, my garden is a bit sparse (because I’m a fair weather gardener).  I also like supporting local farmers and eating with the season. Lastly, instead of going to the market and hand selecting items for dinner, I thought to stretch my creativity by having to figure out what delicious meals to make with the contents of my mystery boxes.

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What was in my box?  Butternut squash, beets, rainbow carrots, Treviso radicchio, kiwis, baby bok choy, watermelon radish, fennel, red d’anjou pears, pink lady apples and assorted lettuce. Whew! After mulling the many possible ways dinner could go, I opted to use the most perishable items first, like lettuce.  So salad it is… Winter Greens with thinly sliced pears, watermelon radish and avocado, coated with yummy crispy quinoa and crumbly feta with a few pistachios thrown into the mix. I added quinoa, not only to give my salad a nutrient boost with it’s high protein content and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and iron, but also to enhance the taste and feel of the salad.  When tossed with a simple vinaigrette, the crispy quinoa bits collect on the veggies making each bite a tasty treasure.

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I first had crispy quinoa in a salad at Tamalpie Pizza in Mill Valley, CA.  I was instantly enamored and only slightly dismayed to hear that the quinoa was deep fried.  It was such a great concept, that quinoa can be transformed almost into something else.  I don’t remember what else was in that salad except for leafy greens (and it is not currently listed on their menu, darn) so I made up my own salad with some help from my CSA box.

TIPS: Always rinse quinoa before cooking (unless the packaging says that it has been pre-rinsed) to remove any remaining saponins, a naturally occurring but bitter substance that the plant produces to protect itself from predators (smart, huh?)  Use a fine mesh colander so you don’t lose any of the tiny grains.

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WINTER GREEN SALAD WITH CRISPY QUINOA

1/2 cup dry quinoa (any kind) or 3/4 cup cooked
1 Tbsn high heat oil like coconut or avocado (not olive oil)
1 head or 4 cups assorted lettuces
5-6 radicchio leaves
1-2 watermelon radish
1 d’anjou pear
1/4 cup pistachios (or roasted hazelnuts)
1/4 cup crumbled feta (optional)

Vinaigrette: (1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. You can also add 1/2 tsp of either cumin or Italian seasoning or any fresh herbs)

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  • Rinse quinoa and simmer in salted water for about 15 minutes or until tender.  All water should be absorbed.  Let cool.

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  • Heat 1 Tbsn oil in a skillet until almost smoking and add in the cooked quinoa. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa pops and sizzles and turns crispy, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

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  • Cut or tear the larger lettuce leaves into pieces. Slice the radicchio

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  • Thinly slice the radish, pear and avocado.

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  • Sprinkle the cooled quinoa on top of the salad greens

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  • Top with the sliced pear, radish, avocado, pistachios and feta.

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  • Dress sparingly with the vinaigrette and toss gently. Serve with more vinaigrette and feta on the side

 

Winter Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1/2 cup dry quinoa (any kind) or 3/4 cup cooked
1-2 Tbsn high heat oil like coconut or avocado (not olive oil)
1 head or 4 cups assorted lettuces
5-6 radicchio leaves
1-2 watermelon radish
1 d’anjou pear
1/4 cup pistachios (or roasted hazelnuts)
1/4 cup crumbled feta (optional)

Vinaigrette: (1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. You can also add 1/2 tsp of either cumin or Italian seasoning or any fresh herbs)

  • Rinse quinoa and simmer in salted water for about 15 minutes or until tender.  All water should be absorbed.  Let cool.
  • Heat 1 Tbsn oil in a skillet until almost smoking and add in the cooked quinoa.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa pops and sizzles and turns crispy, about 5 minutes. Let cool in the
  • Cut or tear the larger lettuce leaves into pieces.
  • Slice the radicchio
  • Thinly slice the radish, pear and avocado.
  • Sprinkle the cooled quinoa on top of the salad greens
  • Top with the sliced pear, radish, avocado, pistachios and feta.
  • Dress sparingly with the vinaigrette and toss gently.
  • Serve with more vinaigrette and feta on the side