Easy Entertaining: Make-ahead Salad.
Back in May I attended the BlogHer Food conference. Besides chatting about food non-stop for three days with other food bloggers, a fun part of the event was talking with the sponsors and trying various samples of their products. Among the many goodies we were given, I took home a bag of organic quinoa from one of the conference sponsors, Bob’s Red Mill.
While I’m familiar with the ancient South American grain and it’s high-protien properties, I had never made quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wa’) before. I figured a good place to start would be to adapt a recipe of mine I already like, substituting the quinoa for brown rice. The results were good.
When making the rice version of this salad, I normally cook the rice in chicken broth so the salad has a rich flavor. But because it’s summer and I wanted a lighter version, I omitted the chicken broth for this vegetarian quinoa version. The salad is light, refreshing and packed with flavor. And of course it’s a make-ahead salad, so perfect for entertaining.
|Quinoa Salad with Dried Cranberries & Avocado|
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons juice from Mandarin orange can
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 (11 oz) can Mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained
- 1/2 cup diced red, yellow or orange bell pepper
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1 avocado, diced
- 2/3 cup chopped pecans
- Add all dressing ingredients to a large jar with a tight fitting lid; seal and shake vigorously until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.
- Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add quinoa, stir and return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until water has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Fluff quinoa with a fork, cover and allow to steam for 15 mintues.
- Transfer quinoa to a large bowl. Add oranges, bell pepper, dried cranberries, scallions, avocado, pecans, and dressing; gently stir until well combined.
Make-ahead Tips: Salad can be made up to a day in advance. If making ahead, add avocado and pecans right before serving.
This salad is equally as good with rice, a brown and wild rice mixture works best. Either version, with rice or quinoa, works well for entertaining. The salad can be made a day or two in advance (add the avocado and pecans right before serving) and holds up well on either a buffet table or sunny picnic table.