This salad may not look or sound like anything much, but I was pleasantly surprised at just how nice this simple little grain salad turned out. I spent much of August cooking grain salads to fight off the overwhelming sense of constantly being in a heavy food coma. Some were good, some were blah, but all in all, I was happy enough with this new addition to our diet that that I’ve kept trying new ones even as the fall sneaks up upon us.
This one was a particularly good one. Originally devised as a quinoa-sorrel salad in Didi Emmons’ Vegetarian Planet, I took the alternate suggestion of using peppery arugula in place of the sorrel. Given that I’m a big fan of both quinoa and arugula, I guess it should be no big surprise that the salad turned out well. What was particularly nice about this one, though, was the very light dressing and the balance of ingredients. I often find that such salads can get overwhelmed by one or two bold ingredients (such as the red onion in this one), but here it all worked beautifully together, making a finished product that is equally appropriate as a light vegetarian supper or a side dish.
Quinoa-arugula salad (serves 4-6)
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 small bunch arugula, stemmed and cut into julienne strips
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 ripe tomato, chopped
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup crumbled feta or any tangy goat cheese
mixed salad greens
1. Put quinoa into a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well under cold water for 1 minute to extract the bitter saponins. Let drain for 2 minutes.
2. Heat a skillet with a lid over medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. When oil is hot, add quinoa. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes or until quinoa smells toasted. Add water and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring mixture to a boil, cover pan, and reduce the heat to low. Let quinoa cook for 15 minutes.
3. While the quinoa cooks, combine the balsamic vinegar and remaining oil in a large bowl. Add the arugula, the red onion, and the tomato. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
4. When the quinoa is cooked, add it to the veggies and vinaigrette. Toss well, add the feta, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Chill the salad or serve warm. Can be served on a bed of salad greens (though I chose to serve it alone).