Nutty quinoa tossed together with delicate tasting white asparagus in a dressing sweetened with honey and citrusy, antioxidant-rich orange and lime makes for a perfectly light, refreshing and healthy meal.
One my favorite Schwabe referred to as “should be dedicated to vegetarians, so-called flexitarians, or hard-core vegans”. Meaning, in his opinion, it tasted healthy. Very healthy. Agreed. But I love healthy. And yes, as it be, this recipe is ultra-healthy and with most salads, is loaded with vitamins.
Inspired by visit a to the market — which by the way was breaming with white asparagus — yes, asparagus fever is in full swing here in Germany! — I stumbled across what will likely be my last chance of buying winter purslane this year, so of course, I left with a very overpriced last chance bag of it, and along with my meandering through the market stalls, a whole lot of white and green asparagus. So what’s on the menu for lunch today? Well, a homage to white asparagus was called for — in the form of a red quinoa salad.
I almost always buy organic white quinoa and have never found it necessary to rinse it, however take heed (maybe I was unlucky), but I recently discovered with red quinoa this is not the case! There really is such a thing as soapy tasting quinoa!
A good reason to rinse — rinsing removes quinoa’s natural coating, (something called saponin), which can make it taste bitter or soapy — apparently some people are more sensitive than others to this. Keep in mind though, packaged quinoa is often polished or pre-washed so that we don’t have to worry about things like rinsing, but as I learned first hand, for the first time in over a decade of eating quinoa, sometimes its better to wash it just to be sure.
And what’s the difference between red and white quinoa? Well, white quinoa, which is most often seen in stores, is milder and less crunchy, and it cooks up faster; in about 10 to 15 minutes. Red is a little crunchier and takes about 5 minutes longer to cook. Love the color, but personally, I’m still stuck on good ole regular white quinoa. So take your choice of preference for this recipe.
I’m a huge fan of eating raw fennel, so I love to include it in salads. In this case, really thin, shaved slices. The best away to achieve this is to use a mandoline. Take a look, here’s a great video to show you the best method for cutting a fennel bulb.
Quinoa Salad with White Asparagus & Shaved Fennel
NOTE: Want a simple side? Then skip the quinoa. Just toss the steamed asparagus with the fennel and half the amount of the dressing. Voila! A tasty side dish of steamed asparagus with fennel in a honey-orange-lime vinaigrette.
For the salad:
1 cup red quinoa, rinsed in cold water (200 g) (alternatively, white quinoa)
1 medium fennel bulb, cut in half and sliced thinly with a mandoline
1 bunch white asparagus, ends trimmed and stalks peeled (alternatively, blanched green asparagus) (500 g)
4 handfuls winter purslane (miner’s lettuce), roots trimmed (alternatively, substitute with lamb’s lettuce or young salad leaves)
For the dressing:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (125 ml)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (60 ml)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Using a fine-mesh strainer, rinse the quinoa well under cold water for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of dried quinoa with 2 cups of water (500 ml) in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Remove from heat, uncover, fluff with a fork and let cool.
2. Trim the woody ends off and gently peel the outermost layer of the asparagus stalk with a vegetable peeler (Note: if using green asparagus, it does not have to be peeled).
3. In a pot large enough to hold the asparagus, pour in enough water to come up just to the bottom of the steamer basket or metal colander. Bring to a boil, and place the asparagus in the pot (on top of the basket/colander). Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Steam the asparagus for 5-8 minutes, until crisp-tender or until they are cooked enough for your taste. (NOTE: thinner white asparagus will take about 5 minutes, whereas thicker stalks will take longer.)
4. Remove from the water and cool the asparagus in an ice water bath. Remove from the cold water and drain well.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, oil, lime juice, honey, mustard, and shallot. Season with salt and pepper and combine thoroughly.
6. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, asparagus and fennel with the dressing until coated.
7. To serve, place a bed of salad greens in a serving bowl or platter. Spoon the quinoa mixture over the greens and enjoy!