Sunday, June 1, 2014

White Bean & Quinoa Salad: Repeat Offender


It hardly seems fair that one of my favorite salads - a quinoa salad at that! - was initially introduced to you as an afterthought. An "oh, by the way," rather than the star of the show, the meat of the matter, or whatever cliche you prefer to be inserted here.

It's been bothering me for the past few months, and increasingly more so with its recent revival back into my weekday lunch rotation. Every time I sit down in front of my computer, my shoulders hunched over my oversized tupperware as I brace myself to go into shovel mode, I feel it.

A nudge of guilt.


The whole thing is really quite ridiculous. It's not as though salads - and quinoa salads at that! - are even exciting to most people. At least not in the same way that strawberry buttermilk cupcakes and chocolate cookies are, because, you know, sugar. I'm very well aware that I'm part of a mere 0.005% of the population who actually looks forward to eating something this egregiously healthy, and the others populating that minuscule percentage point are probably secretly lusting after bacon.

So, of course, it's positively absurd that I would be bothered that you may have missed the memo about this quinoa salad. That you may not have noticed the key differentiators that make this so much more than the lunch you eat because you aught to - the use of dried white beans instead of canned; the quinoa that's lightly toasted in a skillet before preparing; the aggressive crunch of finely chopped celery, radish and red onion; the woodsy walnut oil & sherry vinaigrette that is far more interesting than the standard made with olive oil.

And then, lest we stop there, the triumphant application of toasted walnuts and avocado.

These things - walnuts and avocados! - are like cupcakes and bacon to people like me.

A very big deal.

The biggest deal.

And something worth repeating in case it wasn't explicitly clear the first time. 


White Bean and Quinoa Salad
Inspired by the Cranberry Bean Salad in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Serves 3-4

1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (preferably prepared from scratch - it makes a difference, I pinky swear!)
3/4 cup quinoa
4-5 radishes, sliced into thin pieces, then chopped into little nubs
1 stalk celery, minced
1/4 red onion, minced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Salt, pepper
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/2 avocado, sliced and cut into small chunks

Thoroughly rinse the quinoa. Heat a large, nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the quinoa, and toast, shaking the pan frequently, until lightly brown, but not burned.

Bring just shy of 1 1/2 cups of salted water to boil in a medium-sized sauce pan. Add the toasted quinoa, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed. Fluff quinoa with a fork and let cool to room temperature.

While quinoa is cooking, soak minced red onion in bowl of cool water for at least 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Whisk together the walnut oil and sherry vinegar.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, white beans, radish, celery, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss with sherry-walnut vinaigrette.  Top with walnuts and avocado just before serving. 

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