I was going to call this dish Spring Quinoa Salad, but I checked my archives and it seems that I already created that salad last year! 2013’s version is similar, but it has no mushrooms and gets a sweet quick from dried apricots. Quinoa is such a versatile ingredient one can virtually make thousands of different salads using it. If you’ve never tried making quinoa, I highly recommend it. This salad pairs with everything from grilled beef to roast chicken to cedar-planked salmon to stuffed portabello mushrooms. The leftovers are great for lunch the next day; just pack in a tupperware and go.
Quinoa Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 bunch of asparagus, woody ends trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sugar snap peas or fresh shucked English peas (if you can find them)
4 green onions, sliced into 1-inch pieces on the bias
1 heaping cup mixed greens
2 1/2 tablespoons mint, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
2 heaping tablespoons basil pesto
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
- Place the water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the broth has evaporated and the quinoa is cooked. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Season the asparagus generously with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until tender and just starting to brown, 20 minutes. Set aside to cool a little. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, chop the asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.
- In a small sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the green onions and peas and sauté for 1 minute until vegetables are fragrant and have a vibrant green color.
- In a large bowl, combine the quinoa with the asparagus, green onions, and peas. Add the mixed greens, mint, walnuts, and dried apricots. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- In a small jar with a lid, combine the pesto with the red wine vinegar. Add 1/3 cup olive oil and salt and black pepper. Put the lid on and shake well to emulsify. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking, adding more oil if necessary.
- Pour the dressing over the quinoa and vegetables and toss well to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to enjoy. The salad will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.