A versatile little number, this salad is great for a light lunch all by itself, or as a dinnertime side dish, or a protein-laden yet gluten-free main course for vegans, vegetarians, and those living with celiac disease.
It’s also versatile because you can swap ingredients based on what’s in season. Sugar snap peas and chives not available in the market? That’s okay, substitute carrots and dill instead, or perhaps roasted beets and thyme, maybe even green beans and tarragon.
The Recipe: The recipe comes from Food and Wine, one of my favorite food magazines. Yes, I still like certain print publications, especially because F&W puts out such beautiful food photography.
What Makes It Special: Roasted, lightly salted pumpkin seeds make a surprising and satisfying topping. Also special – you can make it several hours ahead of serving time.
The Playlist: I didn’t really expect to find songs with ‘Quinoa’ in the title. Shows you how little I know. There are several, mostly in experimental or electronic music styles.
Table Tips: As you can see in the lead photo, I like to use decorated clothes pins for identifying foods on a self-serve buffet table so that guests will know what they're getting in to. Folks who are more artistic than I can jazz up the pins to match the party theme or color scheme.
Serve With: This quinoa salad would be great alongside grilled fish or another lean protein, or include it as part of a salad plate with sliced tomatoes and other goodies. Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
Recipe source: Food & Wine
- 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
- 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.
- 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 (or sheet pan) and let cool to room temperature.
- 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.
- Note: To make ahead, prepare the quinoa, sugar snap peas, and dressing up to 6 hours in advance. Keep them separate until about 1 hour before you wish to eat, then mix together and chill until ready to serve. (The vinegar in the dressing will cause the peas to lose their pretty green color after the salad is mixed together for a while. It still tastes great though!)