Friday recipe: Thai quinoa salad

I continue to drool over Catherine Walthers’ beautiful and practical cookbook, Raising the Salad Bar. Part of the reason is that I demand crunch, texture and blow-your-hair-back flavor in my food, and this book delivers. Bypassing boring iceberg lettuce and globby store-bought dressings, it empowers one to incorporate such ingredients as peppery arugula, succulent bok choy, seasoned seafood and grains like tabouli and wheat berries in one’s salad bowl, and gives easy-to-follow instructions for doing so.

Raising the Salad Bar
Salads: not just for summer.

“My goal for this book was to take salad beyond just a plate of leafy greens,” Walthers notes in the introduction.

Today’s recipe comes from Raising the Salad Bar’s “Good-for-you Grains” chapter. I love it because it includes piquant Thai flavorings (don’t be intimidated – you can find quinoa and Asian fish sauce in a lot of grocery stores these days). To make it a meal, Walthers suggests adding cooked shrimp, crab or lobster and making wraps with lettuce leaves. She says the salad is also delicious with tofu. Or just enjoy it as a light and tasty side.

Thai quinoa salad

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a very fine-mesh colander or one lined with 1-2 coffee filters
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into very thin strips
  • 1 carrot, peeled, and shredded or julienned
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Thai dressing:

  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Add quinoa, salt and one and a half cups water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 13 to 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit for five minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

In a large serving bowl, combine the quinoa, red bell pepper, carrot and cucumber and mix well.

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the fish sauce and red pepper flakes. Add the dressing to the salad and toss. Gently mix in the mint and cilantro. If you’re not serving the salad the same day, store in and the dressing separately, covered, in the refrigerator.

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