Eaters of the world: I present a Quinoa Revolution!
Scratch that. Somehow that evokes images of angry mobs clutching raised pitchforks and an endless convoy of dump trucks filled with quinoa. Let's rephrase. Readers and eaters of the world: I present Quinoa Redux!
Quinoa is an ancient seed that's been embraced as a modern-day superfood. It's everywhere: grocery stores, health food stores, local markets, book stores, newsletters, potlucks. In fact, it almost feels like a quinoa takeover. I know what you're thinking. I don't want to be like everyone! I am my own person! I will not be pigeon-holed! [insert sang-froid glare] Quinoa, I am just not that into you. But hang on, before we slam the door shut and declare quinoa the jeggings of the food world, let's pause for a second.
There are lots of reasons to love quinoa: it's nutrient rich, packed with fibre, and it's a complete protein. Those are all important considerations. But alas, also vaguely pious sounding. Who wants finger-wagging food? Food you should eat because its sole virtue is "good for you"? Not me. (See, I've managed to talk myself out of both jeggings and a new superfood!)
But before we (ok, I) mulishly revert to my inner five-year-old, let's own up: this isn't food you eat solely because it's healthy. Here's the ace: quinoa is tasty and toothsome; especially in a genius recipe. Enter this delicious fall salad from Quinoa Revolution by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming. The Canadian authors of the runaway bestseller Quinoa 365 have returned with a gorgeous new book that we're taking for a test spin in the kitchen.
What attracted us to this quinoa recipe? It's easy to prepare, seasonal, versatile (we love dishes that can do double duty as vegetarian mains or as side dishes), and offers a lot of different flavours with every forkful. Verdict? Crazy delicious, of course. This recipe features juicy ripe pears, creamy blue cheese, crunchy nuts, and sharp radicchio as a killer base. Add some quinoa, thyme and just enough vinagrette to bind everything together, and you have a fall classic that'll be your go-to for both weeknights and special occasions.
I urge you to try this delicious Pear, Walnut & Blue Cheese salad as well as other recipes in Quinoa Revolution. There's a world of quinoa that awaits you, including suggestions for breakfast, soups, snacks, meals and desserts!
Note: the original recipe asked for the salad to be served in radicchio leaves as edible "cups". I went rogue and decided to add a lot more radicchio into my quinoa salad instead of using it as a serving vessel. Two reasons: I'm a klutz and could envision me toppling/ricocheting quinoa or blue cheese everywhere; and I love radicchio, the more the better! But for a more elegant presentation, I would enthusiastically choose the "cups" option. I just might not wear white.
Pear, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Thyme Dressing in Radicchio Cups
Even though this stunningly delicious salad is perfect for a late-summer or early-fall dinner party, it can be enjoyed at any time of the year. All white quinoa looks great, but to maximize the dramatic colors in this dish use half black and half white quinoa. Do not separate the radicchio leaves until just before serving to prevent wilting.
1 1/4 cups (325 mL) water
2/3 cup (150 mL) quinoa
6 Tbsp (90 mL) unsweetened apple juice
1/4 cup (60 mL) white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp (45 mL) flaxseed oil or olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh thyme
Pinch of salt (optional)
2 to 3 ripe pears (Bartlett, Bosc or Anjou)
1/4 cup (60 mL) walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (60 mL) crumbled blue cheese (gluten-free if required)
1/4 cup (60 mL) sliced green onions
1 head radicchio
Combine the water and quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool completely.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the apple juice, vinegar, oil, thyme and salt (if using).
Peel the pears if the skin is thick. Core and dice the pears to make 1 ½ cups (375 mL). Add the pears to the dressing and gently toss to coat completely. Add the cooled quinoa, the walnuts, blue cheese and green onions. Toss gently.
Just before serving, separate the radicchio leaves by cutting at the base of the head. Leaves that are 3 ½ to 4 inches (9 to 10 cm) across are the perfect size. Place one leaf on each plate and divide the salad between the cups. Serve immediately.
PER SERVING: Energy 240 calories; Protein 5 g; Carbohydrates 27 g; Dietary Fiber 4 g; Fat 13 g;
Sugar 9 g; Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 90 mg
Always buy pears that are not too soft or bruised. Ripen hard fruit for a few days in a paper bag at room temperature, then store in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.
Excerpted from Quinoa Revolution by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming. Copyright © 2012 Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming. Excerpted by permission of Penguin, a division of Penguin Canada. All rights reserved.
Photo copyright © Eva Quan.
All test recipes are made by Eva Quan in a tres bijou (read: cramped) home kitchen. All errors and culinary mis-steps are generally her own.