Tuesday, June 7, 2016

California Quinoa Salad

Here we have a versatile salad, appeasing to the eyes and the pallet. Loaded with nutrients and so many flavors from the mango, raisins, and peppers, topped with mint and a lime balsamic.

It’s perfect for a picnic or to eat with lunch throughout the week. I’ve done both and never gone wrong. I tested this recipe out for the first time with my family at Mother’s Day and then at a house party a couple weeks later. Both times this quinoa salad was a hit! I had to admit to everyone they were “guinea pigs” and that I didn’t have the recipe posted yet. I got zero complaints! 

I was inspired to make this from the Whole Foods version. Theirs has a few more ingredients, including coconut, which I know is hit or miss with people, so I simplified and perfected to my own liking. Also I used mint instead of cilantro. I’m not a big cilantro fan unless it’s in a Mexican dish.

Just look at that mango! I buy mine frozen at either Trader Joes or Giant. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds or sit out to thaw for 20 minutes, and slice into smaller pieces. I always have trouble finding ripe mangoes and cutting them is another thing I haven’t mastered yet, so frozen is my go to.  

Take this salad to your next party with confidence you are providing a healthy dish that people will love.

Price: 3 out of 4 on my price scale, coming in around $15, if you have to buy everything from scratch. From Aldi, I get the Quinoa for $3.99 and the almonds are about the same. Mangoes are usually $2.99 at Trader Joe’s (or seasonally at Giant) for a frozen bag. Peppers are usually cheapest at the farmers market or local produce store (about $1 each).  For the mint, if you can grow your own that’s the best. It grows like a weed! I’ve also found that buying the small plants at the grocery store is cheaper and fresher than buying the pre-cut mint in the small containers (found in the produce section). I think the plant was $2.99 last I checked.  

California Quinoa Salad Recipe
Serving Size – 7-8 people
1 Cup Quinoa
2 Cups Mango
1 Red or Orange Pepper, chopped
¾ cup Raisins
1 Bunch of Fresh Mint, about ¼ cup of leaves, shredded
½ cup Red Onion, chopped
1 Cup Almonds Slices
¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar
¼ Cup Lime Juice
1/4 Cup Shredded Coconut (OPTIONAL)

Directions: Rinse quinoa in a strainer. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and add quinoa to pot and cover for 20-25 minutes or until fluffy and all water is evaporated.  Meanwhile, slice mangoes (I use frozen mangoes and slice them into tiny pieces), red pepper and red onion. When quinoa is done place in a mixing/serving bowl let cool for about 20 minutes (you can also place in the refrigerator). If you don't have time to cool/refridgerate, rinse with cold water in a strainer, drain well (only use 3 Tablespoons of lime and balsamic for the dressing). Then add mangoes, red pepper, red onion, raisins and almonds. Break mint into tiny pieces either using a paring knife, herb scissors or your hands. Then add mint to the bowl.  Top with balsamic and lime juice and mix well. Add more balsamic and lime if it still seems dry (sometimes the dressing takes to the quinoa differently depending on how thoroughly it’s cooked). Also you can add more mint to taste.  Place in the refrigerator for an hour and serve. 

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