Thursday, November 13, 2014

Asian Quinoa Salad

This is another wonderful salad I found in my Earthfare deli.  Don't you go into good markets and just drool over some of their salads in their deli cases? 

I took the ingredients off of the deli label (bless them for listing everything in their salads) and went to work.  The very first attempt was a hit!  This salad is delicious, nutritious and gorgeous (aren't we suppose to eat the colors of the rainbow?......this covers all the bases).  Now it is a bit more labor intensive as there's some chopping involved and a dressing to mix, but it is so worth the effort.

A couple of notes on how I deal with the ginger and cucumber.  I've seen cooking shows where they suggest keeping leftover gingerroot in the freezer.  But years ago, I took a cooking class at Central Market in San Antonio (if you're a foodie and are ever in Texas, you must visit a Central's a foodie's heaven!) and was told to keep fresh, peeled gingerroot in either white wine or vodka.  Great idea.  It will keep forever, plus you can use the wine or vodka in stir fries, etc.  In fact, I used it in place of the water in the dressing mix.

As far as cucumbers, I will always prefer pickling cucumbers over regular cucumbers, if available (a second choice is an English cucumber).  I find the pickling cucumbers to be sweeter and crunchier.  And since they're growing regular cucumbers on steroids these days, they tend to be soggier, seedier, and more bitter.  However, every once in a while you can find a smaller, thinner regular cuke which will work.  Generally, when I dice a cucumber, I'll peel four strips of peel so (lengthwise) it will be green, white, green, white, and so on.  Then I cut the cucumber lengthwise into four sections then dice.  Each dice will have a bit of the green peel and part of the inner white.

One other thing, instructions for cooking quinoa always tell you to rinse the quinoa until the water runs clear.  I never do this.  Ever.  But this time I did something I don't usually do:  I toasted the uncooked quinoa in 1/2 Tbsp of butter for about 5 minutes on medium heat.  It certainly gives it a deeper, nuttier flavor.  But this step is optional.  You can simply cook the quinoa in the water (or vegetable or chicken stock).

Serving amounts are subjective.  I keep this in the fridge for a snack.  But if you were serving this with a meal, I'm guessing 4-6 servings.

ASIAN QUINOA SALAD (4-6 servings)

1/2 Tbsp butter, optional
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup shelled edamame
1/2 cup chopped red cabbage
1/2 small red pepper, chopped
1 pickling cucumber or 1/2 small-sized regular cucumber, or half of an English cucumber, diced
1 large or 2 small green onions, sliced, green and white parts
1-2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
salt to taste, optional

2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp water (or ginger liquid)
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp minced fresh gingerroot

If toasting quinoa, melt butter in a skillet.  Add quinoa and stir for about 5 minutes over medium heat until you smell a nuttiness coming out of the quinoa.

Bring water to a boil.  Add quinoa (toasted or not), turn down to a simmer, and cook 15-17 minutes or until water has evaporated.

In the meantime, mix the ingredients for the dressing until emulsified.

In a medium mixing bowl, add quinoa, edamame, cabbage, red pepper, cucumber, cilantro, and green onion.  Start with about half of the dressing and dress salad.  Let chill for a few hours.  At serving time, add more dressing if desired.  Add salt to taste.

Recipe Source:  salad label for "Asian Quinoa Salad" from Earthfare Market on Gunbarrel Road in Chattanooga, TN.

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