Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wild Rice-and-Quinoa Garden Salad

This salad - featuring two nutrition-packed superstar grains, wild rice and quinoa - can be made ahead, served chilled or at room temperature, and travels well. Oh, and did I mention it feeds a crowd? Needless to say, you might want to keep it in mind for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

  • 3 cups water, divided
  • 1/2 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped, seeded, and peeled cucumber
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
1. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup water and the wild rice.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour - the liquid should be all absorbed.  Set aside.

Note: I find wild rice absolutely stunning, the long dark grains so completely different from standard white rice. If you've never cooked with it, it's well worth a try, even though it takes longer to simmer than white or brown rice.

2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 2 cups water with the quinoa in a second saucepan.  Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

3. Combine the rice and quinoa in a large bowl with the green onions, bell pepper, and cucumber.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic, Dijon mustard, salt, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, and garlic.  Drizzle over the quinoa mixture and toss gently.

5. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, then either serve chilled or bring back to room temperature.

Nutrition Info:
10 servings (1/2 cup), Calories 122

Tasting Notes:
The surprising element here was the rosemary. Although at first bite it felt out of place (I think of it as a winter herb), it actually gave an otherwise super-fresh salad a very earthy, woodsy undertone that was perfect with the tender wild rice, nutty quinoa, and vinaigrette. There was more olive oil in the dressing than I normally use, making this feel slightly indulgent too. Almost any veggies would be wonderful here, so play around. I'd definitely add fresh green peas and halved cherry or grape tomatoes next time. I personally preferred the salad at room temperature, so recommend removing it from the fridge about 20 to 30 minutes before serving time.


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