Sunday, July 1, 2012

Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snap Peas

I love cold grain salads in the summer. While I dive into green salads packed with fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis as well, they can't be prepared in big batches to enjoy for a few days without the quality going downhill rapidly with time. Grain salads, on the other hand, often get more flavorful with time as the flavors meld together and intensify (though you still shouldn't leave them too long). My grain of choice, especially for a main course, is quinoa. Quinoa is a complete protein, has a wonderfully chewy texture and nutty flavor, and can be prepared very quickly and easily. Once a very exotic ingredient, quinoa is slowly making its way into the mainstream, even available at Target. Here quinoa is blended with crunchy sugar snap peas, salty crunchy pumpkin seeds, and fresh chives, blended in a simple, balanced vinaigrette. Absolutely delicious just as written, the recipe is also a great template for making any grain salad that strikes your fancy. Swap our quinoa for another grain, peas for whatever the best looking vegetable is at the farmers' market, pumpkin seeds for other seeds or nuts, and chives for any fresh herb you love. Although it's a cliche, it certainly rings true here-the possibilities are endless!

Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snap Peas 
from Food and Wine
serves 6

1/2 pound sugar snap peas
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup minced chives

1. In a small saucepan of boiling salted water, simmer the peas until bright green and crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain and spread out on a large plate to cool, then pat dry. Cut the peas on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until all of the water has evaporated and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover and fluff the quinoa, then transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.
3. In a bowl, combine the oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add the peas to the quinoa with the pumpkin seeds, chives and dressing; stir. Season with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature or lightly chilled. 

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