How To Make Grapefruit Quinoa Salad

Perfect for spring and summer, this quinoa salad is both elegant, sophisticated and refreshing. The grapefruit is presented on a bed of quinoa, dotted with watercress, citrus and pine nuts. This is a sophisticated salad, blending the bitter leaves with the lush citrus flavors. It is delicate, tart and very nutritious. In fact, the nutrient complexity of the quinoa is so high in protein that, added with the citrus and greens, it becomes a nearly perfect meal for a warm day. It’s also easy to prepare, requiring only minimal cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups quinoa
  • 1 large ruby red grapefruit
  • 2 naval or blood oranges
  • 8oz watercress
  • 1 small head radicchio
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • ¼ cup pine nuts

1. Bring 2 quarts salted water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 12 to 14 minutes, or 
until quinoa is tender. Drain and return it briefly to the pan, making certain that stove is off (see below for cooking tips).
2. Chop the watercress and radicchio and mix.
3. Prepare the citrus by removing the white pith with a sharp knife. You will have to slice off the membranes on all sides of the fruit, leaving the most juicy and sweet part of the fruit exposed. Slice the fruit uni formally.
4. Place the greens, quinoa and ½ of the vinaigrette in a bowl and toss.
5. Arrange the fruit on top, add raisins and pine nuts. Then drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette

  • ½ teaspoon minced orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano

Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil by whisking in a small bowl. When mixed, add the olive oil and stir. Add pepper to taste.

Tips for Cooking With Quinoa

Quinoa is a relatively new grain for many people, so there are some things that bear attention. The first thing to know is that it isn’t a grain. Although it is used like a grain in cooking, it’s really the seed of a grain, which accounts for it’s light and almost nutty taste. The outside of the seed is slightly bitter, so new cooks who use quinoa and forget to rinse it wind up with a slightly off-putting flavor. Quinoa shouldn’t be washed prior to cooking, instead, you should cook it first and then rinse it afterwards. You should do this with a fine-mesh strainer, since the seeds themselves are quite small.

Another common mistakes people make when they first cook with quinoa is to overcook it until it becomes mush-like. Be careful and remember that quinoa is supposed to be ‘fluffy.’ When it is finished cooking, rinse it and drain out all of the extra water. Quinoa can be a bit tricky in that it will absorb a lot of water and you want to make certain that it has drained properly before adding it to your meal. A well prepared quinoa has an almost ‘crunchy’ texture. A good cook will actually drain the quinoa before returning it, briefly, to the cooking pan. Make certain that the burner is off. You are not cooking it a second time. You are simply adding it to a still slightly heated pan so that the quinoa has an opportunity to dry out more. This will make the quinoa somewhat crunchy, adding a sense of loft and lightness to the meal.

Nutritional Benefits

Quinoa is grown in the Andes and is an important part of the diet in the region. It is a grain crop that is not only high in protein, but naturally gluten free and so it is a ‘perfect’ health food for people interested in a low calorie or gluten free diet. Some ‘foodies’ have even taken to calling it a super-food, because it contains all nine essential amino acids. And, if that weren’t enough, it has nearly twice the fiber of other grains, so it can help lower cholesterol and glucose levels.

Of course, the citrus adds it’s own nutritional stores to the meal. Oranges are known to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. And grapefruits are high in antioxidants and contain phytonutrients liminoid, which have been shown to inhibit tumors. They even protect against colon cancer!

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