The vibrant colors of the fall foliage make it impossible not to comment on the beauty of this season. Every time I look out the window, the tree in front of my house is a deeper, more rich orange, and drives in the car are so much more stimulating and inspiring as my eyes feast on the colors of the leaves. The colors I am writing about today aren’t those reds and oranges though, I have a last burst of summer colors that help me hold on to the last taste of the season that just past.
Last Saturday morning, I woke up and knew I had to get outside. The sun was shining and it was that perfect crisp fall air that I had to take advantage of. I also needed the space to think and be, with the thoughts that come only when on a really nice, long walk.
A couple miles from my house is a beautiful park, famous for its roses and flowers. When I go for a walk in my neighborhood, I usually stick to the usual and predictable 2 mile loop, but on Saturday morning I needed something a little different, and set the goal of walking to the park. When I arrived, I was surprised to see the Dahlias were still in bloom. I could not get over the rainbow of colors, so different than the usual deep hues we associate with the fall. After getting home, I knew exactly what I wanted to make for lunch. Inspired by those beautiful flowers, I chopped up the vegetables I had in my fridge and put them together with quinoa and a simple lemon vinaigrette.
Quinoa is simple to prepare and cooks up quickly, but there a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure you rinse the quinoa very well. I like to put the quinoa in a bowl with water and rub it between my fingers before rinsing it through a fine mesh sieve. Quinoa has a natural bitter tasting coating caused by saponins, which are there to deter birds. The saponins are removed when the quinoa is washed.
As great as quinoa can be, it can also be terribly tasteless and soggy. The ratio of water to quinoa makes a big difference. I like to use a ratio of 2 cups quinoa to 3 cups water to get the fluffiest quinoa. This makes a lot of quinoa to have for leftovers, so the quantity cooked can always be reduced, keeping the 2 to 3 ratio.
The combination of all the colors and textures of the various ingredients in the salad is what makes it exciting. Don’t let the list of ingredients deter you from making this salad, adjust quantities based on your taste and what you have available. This is a great salad to bring to a picnic or serve to company, the colors make for a great appetizing presentation.
Rainbow Quinoa Salad
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup loosely packed arame seaweed
1/2 cup cooked green peas (I used frozen)
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 cucumber, seeds removed and chopped
2 radishes, chopped
1/4 – 1/2 cup purple cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup jicama, chopped
1/2 an avocado, cubed
For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon course salt
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
Place the arame into a small bowl with water. The arame needs to soak for about 10 minutes, then drain the water and set aside.
Lemon Vinaigrette: In a small jar with lid, add olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt, and dijon mustard. Shake until well blended.
In a large bowl combine the cooked quinoa, peas, peppers, cucumber, radishes, cabbage, jicama, avocado, and soaked, drained, arame.
Lightly Dress the salad before serving, and don’t be afraid of leftovers! The salad still tastes great after the flavors have marinated.
Note: This quantity of salad dressing does not all need to be used. Dress based on your taste!