A sweet and savory grain salad with a hint of maple syrup.
Recipe adapted from Food Fanatic
1 1/2 cups red quinoa
1 1/2 cups dried apricots, chopped
1 cup slivered almonds, raw
8 scallions, thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 15-oz package tofu (cooked and diced chicken breasts can be substituted if desired)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. sea salt
Rinse quinoa and cook according to package instructions – usually you will add 3 cups of water and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until liquid is soaked up.
Stir in the apricots, almonds, scallions, celery and yellow pepper.
Press the tofu between paper towels to squeeze out the extra liquid. Slice tofu block into four slabs. Cook in 1 Tbs. olive oil in a pan, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides. Let cool, then dice into small cubes. Stir into salad mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, syrup, and salt to create the dressing. Pour over salad mixture and toss to distribute.
Refrigerate overnight or for at least six hours. Serve cold or at room temperature, seasoning to taste with extra salt.
Yield: 8-10 servings
KITCHEN CONFESSIONAL: Quinoa is one of the easiest grains to cook – it takes a mere 15-20 minutes, versus nearly an hour for wheatberries or barley. The original recipe called for a diced 8 oz. chicken breast, but substituting tofu not only makes the salad vegetarian but adds a creamy contrast to the crunchy almonds and yellow pepper. The diced pepper makes its appearance in my adaptation mostly because of my cooking OCD – I get nervous about salads when there aren’t enough ingredients. I’ve deep-sixed plans to make a lentil salad because the only additions were capers and herbs. Of course simple can taste just as good as complex, and sometimes tossing in extra ingredients just muddles the flavors of the recipe, which was written a certain way for a reason! But I’m a picky cook – I may be a lazy baker, eschewing cookie recipes with giant yields that call for more than two cookie sheets and one round of oven time, but I also want a project I can sink my teeth into. For me, that means finding recipes that take longer than ten minutes to put together.