Friday, April 1, 2011
FFWD: Quinoa, Fruit, and Nut Salad
So, we're starting a new month of recipes for French Friday's with Dorie. I always enjoy checking the website and seeing what the month will hold. We all get to vote on a selection of recipes and then the winning recipes are posted right before the start of each month. First up for April is this quinoa, fruit, and nut salad and it had one of the highest percentages of votes. I admit, I voted for this recipe because it sounded intriguing and like something I would never make on my own. I've come to find out that is one of the best things about FFwD (besides all of the great people I've met through the group), making a recipe that uses new and different ingredients and flavor combinations and seeing what happens.
I have had quinoa before in restaurants but have never cooked it myself. If you are unfamiliar, quinoa (prounounced "keen-wah") is a highly nutritious seed (not grain as I found out from Chef Pandita) with a slightly nutty taste that can be served hot or cold. This recipe combines a mixture of dried fruit, nuts and fresh herbs into the cooked quinoa. I'm just going to be honest here and say I had major misgivings when I was steaming the quinoa. Call me uncool or unsophisticated, I don't care, but I thought it smelled a little bit like what one feeds to horses. Luckily, I knew that I liked quinoa in its finished form so I pressed on. Thankfully, I did because the end result was really good. I used a combination of dried cherries, apricots, and golden raisins for the fruit, but you can use whatever dried fruit you'd like. Dorie also suggests using a combination of nuts so I used sunflower seeds and almonds. I mixed in cilantro as my choice of fresh herb (Dorie suggests cilantro, parsley, mint, or basil but I have a particular love for cilantro and thought it would add a nice burst of flavor to the salad). Finally, you toss the salad with olive oil, ground ginger, and lemon which was such a light and fresh dressing. I may start making this as a salad dressing for other types of salads because it was delicious and took no time to put together.
I enjoyed this dish and think it would be great for a nice luncheon or shower dish. I liked how all of the flavors-- from the nuttiness of the quinoa and the sweetness of the fruit and the tang from the dressing and the herbs blended together so well. As always, you can see what everyone else thought about this dish here.