Summer Quinoa Salad With Dried Apricots and Parsley
Quinoa - A Nutritious Base for Tasty Salads
I've been cooking more with quinoa recently, using it as an alternative to rice and also to add more protein to our diet as we cut back on meat. Occasionally I'll make it plain, cooking it in water or broth and serving it as I might do with rice. But more often now I'll use it as a base for a nutritious salad or side dish.
I've experimented with a number of quinoa recipes, and this salad with dried apricots and parsley is one of my favorites. I've served it when we've had people over for dinner, and I've also brought it along to potlucks. People like its flavor and texture. It is slightly sweet from the apricots and from a small amount of honey in the simple dressing, and the parsley also adds a fresh taste to this pleasing salad.
A Flavorful and Nutritious Salad
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 cup green onions, sliced
- 1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seed kernels, toasted
- Rinse quinoa in fine meshed sieve to remove bitterness, unless your quinoa comes pre-rinsed
- Add quinoa to water, bring to a boil in medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
- While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the other ingredients.
- Transfer quinoa to a bowl and fluff with a fork. Add the parsley, celery, green onions, apricots.
- In a small bowl mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt, and black pepper. Toss with quinoa mixture. Top with the pumpkin seeds.
Have You Made This Salad? Did You Like It?
A Note on Cooking Quinoa
Many recipes recommend cooking quinoa with a ratio of 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water or broth, as you would do for cooking rice. But many of us prefer a less mushy consistency to the cooked quinoa.
Other Notes on Ingredients, Preparation, and Serving
- Unless your quinoa comes pre-rinsed, it will have a bitter coating of saponins that most people won't like. It's very easy to get rid of this coating by placing it in a fine mesh strainer, running cold water over it and lightly rubbing it around with your fingers.
- I use fresh parsley leaves, cutting off the stems. You can chop the leaves if you prefer. We grow parsley in our garden, and this recipe is a great use for it.
- Other dried fruits would work here instead of the apricots. Dried cherries, figs, or raisins would also be good in this recipe.
- I use toasted, salted pumpkin seed kernels for this recipe, but you can also substitute with sunflower seeds or pine nuts.
This salad can be used as a side-dish to go along with a larger meal, or it can be a meal by itself. It goes well with chicken, although it already has enough protein that you don't really need any meat to go with it. I've served it as a light summer meal along with a vegetable and a fruit salad. It's also great for leftovers. The dried apricots soften up after a day or two, which gives the salad a slightly different texture.
Leftovers Are Great Too!
More About Quinoa
Quinoa (pronounced “keenwah”) is the seed from a species of Goosefoot plant (Chenopodium), and is closely related to spinach and chard. It is cooked and used like other grains, but it is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal grain.
Cereal grains such as wheat, barley, oats, rye, rice, and millet all are in the grass family. Pseudocereals are not grasses, but the seeds are used in a similar way as cereal grains.Other pseudocereals include buckwheat, amaranth, and chia.
Quinoa is an excellent source of protein, containing all essential amino acids, and it is high in other nutrients such as iron,magnesium, and calcium. Since it is not a true cereal, it is gluten-free.
Some people who need to avoid cereal grains do very well with quinoa, although some find that quinoa doesn't agree with them either.