Quinoa Salad with Morroccan Spices, Dried Fruit and Avocado

TGIF, everyone! I hope it is as gorgeous where you are as it is here in Texas.

I wasn’t sure if I would have time to post today due to my work schedule (combined with staying up too late last night watching Project Runway). But I am enjoying being back in a regular posting mode, so I am able to squeeze in a recipe before I head off to pick up Nick from kindergarten.

As you can tell from my recent posts, I am on a quinoa kick; I purchased an abundance of it–white, red, and a bit of black, too–last time we were in Houston. I lose a considerable amount of self-reserve in the bulk foods section at Central Market (one of the best sections anywhere–and I am a lifelong frequenter of bulk foods sections!).

On this past trip,  Kevin took one look at my overflowing basket of various bags of dried goods (he and Nick usually wander off for awhile–a long while–as I peruse the bins and scoop away) and asked if I was preparing for the coming apocalypse (it just happens to be one of his areas of expertise in world literature).

No, just preparing for revelations, such as this quinoa salad.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

You can play with the spices if you do not have smoked paprika–regular paprika and a bit of cayenne, for example, or some chili powder. This salad has a lot of wonderful flavors, so do not fret if you need to make some substitutions based on what you have on hand.

In addition to being gorgeous, red quinoa has a bit more bite than regular quinoa; it contributes great texture to any dish it is in, especially in salads such a this one. But regular (white) quinoa will still produce a fantastic salad.

Quinoa Salad with Morroccan Spices, Dried Fruit and Avocado

Makes 4 main-dish servings or 6 side dish servings

1-1/4 cups red or white quinoa
3 tbsp golden or dark raisins
3 tbsp chopped dried apricots
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/4 tsp smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
1 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
2 medium firm-ripe Haas avocados, pitted, peeled, and diced
2/3 cup thinly sliced green onions (2 to 4 onions, depending on size)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds (I used pre-roasted, salted almonds)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional: fresh spinach leaves or mesclun
1.         In a medium saucepan, bring 2-1/2 cups water, the quinoa, and 1/2 tsp fine sea salt to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer 10 minutes.
2.         Add the raisins and apricots to quinoa. Cook mixture 2 to 5 minutes longer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Immediately fluff the quinoa with a fork and spread onto a baking sheet to cool to room temperature.
3.         In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, paprika, cumin, and  coriander.
4.         In a large bowl, toss the vinaigrette with the quinoa, mixture, avocado, green onions and almonds. Generously season to taste with salt and pepper. If desired, serve atop spinach or greens.
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