Quinoa Salad with Watercress, Asparagus, Pepitas and Feta

Quinoa is truly a delightful little grain.  And good for you too. High in antioxidants, fiber and minerals, the South American "supergrain" provides  many health benefits, including helping to promote weight loss, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and even prevent migraines.  Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a "complete" protein without the need to combine it with other grains, legumes or meats.

It tastes a little like barley, and in this recipe, fluffs up nicely as excess moisture is steam dried off.  That tip came from my Gourmet Today cookbook, though I almost skipped it, thinking at first it was an unnecessarily fussy extra step.  But, then I thought, wait -  if Ruth put it in there, maybe I should just give it a try.  Good move, Claudia...

Usually I just bring twice the amount of water or stock as grain, to a boil, and simmer the rinsed seeds, exactly like I do rice.  Steamed afterward, they become a light and fluffy canvas for dabbing in the colors, flavors and textures of this salad.

You could use a variety of vegetables here.  Cucumbers, bell pepper, zucchini, avocado, red onion would all be great.   Herbs as you like.  The recipe in Gourmet Today had sweet corn, roasted poblano chiles, cilantro and tomato.  Oh boy, something for the next time.

Quinoa Salad with Watercress, Asparagus, Pepitas and Feta

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water or chicken stock
2 green onions, minced
1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted in a dry skillet
2 cups asparagus, broken into 1 inch pieces
1 cup watercress leaves, washed
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup garlic mayo (recipe below) or more as you like
1 cup watercress leaves
Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste

Bring your water or stock to a boil, add salt and the well rinsed quinoa and simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered.  While that is going, you can cook your asparagus just until bright green and tender (about 6-8 minutes) in a pot of boiling water.  Drain with a ladle and set aside, keeping the water at a boil.

Now the quinoa steaming step.  Drain the quinoa into a strainer, rinsing the pan to get all the bits, and set the sieve over your pot of boiling water.  It shouldn't actually touch the water.  Cover it with a kitchen towel and a lid, folding the edges of the towel onto the top so they don't burn.  Steam until fluffy and dry, about 10 to 15 minutes.   Empty it into a large salad bowl and set aside.  While it's cooking you can dry roast the pumpkin seeds and finish assembling the remaining salad ingredients.

Toss everything together with the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Garlic Anchovy Mayonnaise

Adapted from the recipe by Louisa at The Wednesday Chef
Makes about 1/2 cup
1 egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
1 anchovy fillet
1/4 lemon
1/3 to 1/2 cup of neutral vegetable oil
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 Put all the ingredients, except oil, in a wide-mouth jar and pulse for about 30 seconds with an immersion blender. Use a good pinch of salt, and as much minced garlic as you'd like (I used about half a clove, which made for a pretty mild mayo).  Pulse again. While pulsing, slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture is emulsified and creamy. Taste for salt and thin with a little more lemon juice if necessary.

A very substantial and filling meal, yet light and summery.  I espeially enjoyed the crunchy, nutty toasted pumpkin seeds in there.  Endlessly variable.  I'm sending my dish over to My Meatless Mondays    Lots of good information and recipes to check out.


Joanne said...

I love quinoa for it's versatility and it's nutty flavor! These seasonal veggies you've mixed it with sound delicious!

Swathi said...

I haven't started yet trying quinoa, I read lot about them. Nice way to incorporate the vegetables too making it more healthy.

Miriam said...

Quinoa IS amazing, great recipe! Miriam@The Pioneer Cookbook"

Casey said...

Quinoa has turned into a new treat. I am always on the lookout for new ways to use it.

Thanks for a new recipe.