Quinoa Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

IMG_3425I 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
Olive oil
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Serves 4-6.

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