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Quinoa Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts


Monday, July 27th, 2015

Earlier this year, I participated in a special event at a local restaurant where small portions of several dishes were served.  One of the first items served was a salad whose main ingredient was quinoa, accented with spinach, currants and pine nuts.  The accompanying dressing had a sweet-sour flavor contrast with a light essence that added moisture to the ingredients without making the finished combination “soupy”.  This combination was my favorite dish of the evening, and after returning home, I accepted the challenge of creating my own version of this delicious salad.  Try it.  It’s easy to make and quite tasty as well.  And don’t be fooled by the quinoa’s tiny size…it packs lots of protein in one serving…and is also gluten-free.  But enough with the nutritional value.  I think you’ll make this quinoa salad again and again because it just tastes good!

Quinoa Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts

Ingredients
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon Arbequina olive oil
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons of your choice of natural sweetener such as honey, agave nectar or pure maple syrup
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
¼ cup Zante currants
1 cup multi-color quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1 ounce fresh, de-stemmed spinach (1 cup tightly packed) washed, drained and patted dry
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Directions:
To make the dressing, whisk the Arbequina olive oil, sherry vinegar, choice of sweetener, sea salt and black pepper in a small bowl until blended. Add the Zante currants to the oil and vinegar mixture. Set aside.
Combine the rinsed and drained quinoa with 2 cups water in a large sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then cover the pan and reduce heat to simmer the quinoa for approximately 20 minutes. Check the quinoa periodically to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan. The quinoa is cooked completely when it appears that the grains of quinoa have “grown little tails”. Spoon the cooked quinoa into a medium-sized bowl.
While the quinoa is cooking, remove the stems from the spinach leaves and then measure 1 cup of tightly packed spinach. Rinse and drain the spinach, (I use a salad spinner) and wrap the spinach leaves in a dish towel to remove excess water. Finely chop the spinach.
Add the chopped spinach to the warm quinoa in the medium bowl. The heat of the quinoa will “cook” the spinach.
Gently blend the dressing into the warm quinoa/spinach mixture. Stir in the pine nuts.
The quinoa salad can be served warm, at room temperature or refrigerated…it’s all delicious!
Serves 6

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