May 15, 2011

Quinoa and Roasted Asparagus Salad with Walnuts

We had friends over for barbequed hamburgers last night. Nothing reminds you that you live in the Northwest as much as standing in the rain in the middle of May whilst flipping burgers, while the rest of the family and your guests sit in a nice warm house!

Although hamburgers, if you eat the bun, are a bit of an indulgence, I wanted the rest of the meal to be pretty much within my eating plan. I only ate a bit or two of the bun anyway, but for me it is best to not have the temptation of potato salad in front of me!

My menu:

Raw vegetables (carrots, snow peas, bell pepper strips) and tortilla chips with a trio of dips (the dips were guacamole (homemade), artichoke and asiago (store-bought) and ranch (made with Greek yogurt and a packet of ranch dressing mix).

Kale Chips (Surprisingly tasty!)

Tear a head of kale into chip-sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil and rub the oil into the leaves

Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with sea salt

Roast at 450 degrees until crisp and starting to brown a bit - you want them pretty crispy

These were addictive - they definitely don't replace potatoes, but are good in their own right. The roasting brings out the sweetness of the vegetable, the saltiness is also addictive. I found that these were actually a bit filling - perhaps because they have a lot of fibre.

Quinoa and Roasted Asparagus Salad with Walnuts

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well, then brought to a boil and simmered until tender
1/2 bunch of fresh asparagus, tough ends snapped off, tossed in olive oil and roasted at 450 degrees until tender
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted at 450 degrees until lightly browned

1 shallot, finely minced
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fig vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup walnut oil, or substitute olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
(Optional: zest of 1/2 lemon or drizzle of lemon infused olive oil)

Once the quinoa is cooked, rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly
Roast the asparagus, then let cool slightly and chop into about 1 inch pieces
Set the walnuts aside to cool

Make the dressing, whisk the shallots, vinegar and mustard together until combined, then gradually add the oil, while whisking, to make a smooth dressing. Add the lemon peel too, if you are using some.

Once the dressing is made, dump the rest of the ingredients into the bowl on top of the dressing, mix gently but thoroughly and taste - adding salt and freshly ground pepper. I topped this with a drizzled of lemon infused olive oil, but probably would have used lemon peel if I had remembered to buy lemons!

This was delicious and enjoyed by our non-WLS friends too!

Rinse the quinoa well - the seeds have a bitter coating that will come off when they are rinsed

Here is what quinoa looks like after it is cooked - see the little white "O" shaped bits - it should be a bit al dente, but not crunchy

Fig vinegar, shallots and mustard for the base of the dressing:

Add the quinoa, asparagus and walnuts...

The finished salad - delicious!

We also had a green salad, and hamburgers with sauteed onions, mushrooms, bacon and Swiss cheese on whole grain buns.

Desserts was fresh strawberries and a couple bars of broken-up dark chocolate, served on one big platter for everyone to share (easy-peasy!)

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