March 5, 2009

Quinoa and Blood Orange Salad

I'm sick with my first cold in over a year and really ready for winter to be over. In the past months I've paid my dues eating lots of local rutabagas and turnips but now I need a break. So I'm indulging myself with blood oranges and herbs from points south. Have you seen the prices on blood oranges? Just a few years ago you'd have to pay a buck an orange and now they're less than $2 per pound. Of course the ones on sale are tiny but they're still a nice break from Midwest winter food.

In my ongoing pantry cleaning, I found the last box of quinoa left from 2008. Recently I found a more foolproof method for cooking quinoa. The key is to let the grains rest in the middle of the cooking process. If you look closely at the quinoa in the closeup shot nothing is sticking together, the little curly-cue husks are still attached, there is just a tiny dot of uncooked middle and overall the quinoa is fluffy with a nice bite. I paired the quinoa and blood oranges with fresh parsley and mint and a light dressing. For a short while it kept me from thinking about winter dragging on outside.

Quinoa and Blood Orange Salad
Makes enough for 2 as a side dish or one large serving

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup water
1 tablespoon finely diced shallot
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 to 1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1-2 tablespoon(s) sliced fresh spearmint
2 small blood oranges, supremed (see video at the end of this post for a demonstration)

-Place the quinoa and water in a microwave safe bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Cook on high in the microwave for 8 minutes. After the 8 minutes stir the quinoa, mixing any grains that climbed the side of the container back into the water. Recover loosely and let sit for 8-10 minutes. After that time has passed, cook again on high for 2 minutes or until there is only the faintest dot of uncooked center in the quinoa, like the center of al dente pasta. Uncover and allow to rest while you prepare the rest of the salad.
-In your serving bowl, stir together the shallot, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add the quinoa, parsley and mint and stir to coat everything evenly with the dressing.
-Top with the blood orange supremes and serve at room temperature.

This is my entry to Weekend Herb Blogging, a food blogging event created by Kalyn's Kitchen. The event is now run and documented by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything Once. Haalo is also hosting this week's roundup.