March 27, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus & Almonds in Balsamic Vinaigrette

My back door was sending me conflicting information a few days ago - snow in spring?  It can't be!  Even though spring hasn't quite started out as I had hoped, I am still in the spirit.  We have already started on our spring cleaning and I have been admiring the pretty little robins pecking away at the suet from my back door.  How lovely it will be to open my windows and let the sweet spring air pour through to freshen my house.  How happy I will be when I can harvest and cook with fresh ingredients from the garden again.  As I found myself daydreaming, I decided to make a light, healthy and fresh salad for lunch today to help quench my thirst for the spring weather.  

Yields 6 servings (about 1 c per serving)
218 calories per serving

  • 1 c quinoa
  • 2 c chicken broth 
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 8 asparagus spears, trimmed of ends
  • 1/4 c onion, diced 
  • 1/4 c slivered almonds 
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped 
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 tsp honey 
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard 
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste 


Rinse the quinoa with cold water in a fine-mesh strainer.  Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add the quinoa and stir constantly until golden, about 6 minutes.  Toasting the quinoa helps to bring out the delicious nutty flavor.

Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan.  Stir the toasted quinoa into the broth and reduce the heat to low.  Cover and simmer until popped open, about 15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Season the asparagus with salt and pepper.  Add the asparagus to the hot oil and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the onion and continue to cook until the asparagus is crisp-tender.  Add the garlic, almonds and parsley and cook for 1 minute longer.

Make the vinaigrette.  In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and Dijon.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa and asparagus mixture.  Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette over all and stir well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


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