Quinoa Salad With Nectarines & Almonds with Fresh Ginger Vinaigrette

Our summers in Umbria are always a very busy time, and when family is visiting I’m constantly looking for tasty, light lunches that everyone will enjoy. During the warm days of summer, I find we prefer to eat lighter and salads are always a great option. In my salads, I love to combine grains along with fruit, vegetables and nuts to add lots of color, flavor and texture, and now that locally grown stone fruit is appearing in my farmer’s markets I am incorporating them in my salads as well.

Quinoa is quickly becoming a new favorite in our house, and I love the texture it adds to salads. If you are not familiar with it, quinoa is a remarkable ingredient and is not a grain, but a seed, so is gluten free. It is also a complete protein containing all 8 essential amino acids and is a good source of iron, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, vitamin E, and folic acid so you can see why some consider it a superfood and why it is becoming more and more popular. Although quinoa is not easily found in Italy, I have recently discovered it being sold at local health food stores, as well as in the organic and health section of larger grocery stores. Quinoa can be found in many colors now, though I prefer the regular beige colored quinoa for salads such as this one.

This is the type of salad that you can vary depending on what you have in your refrigerator or garden on a given day. I used nectarines I bought at my local farmer’s market, added red pepper, fresh parsley and mint, and sweet onion for color and flavor, finishing the salad with some lightly toasted sliced almonds for texture and added nutrition. To dress this salad I decided to use a simple lemon vinaigrette that I flavored with fresh grated ginger to compliment the fruit flavor. This salad kept well in the refrigerator, well covered, for three days. You can also make this salad into a complete meal by topping it with a grilled chicken breast, shrimp, or a tuna steak.

To toast the sliced almonds, either bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 5 minutes, tossing halfway, or lightly toast over medium heat in a skillet on top of the stove, shaking the pan often to prevent burning.

 

 

  • Quinoa (aka Super Seed) is a gluten free seed that provides a complete protein as well as iron, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, vitamin E, and folic acid.
  • Almonds are also a good source of heart-healthy, or monounsaturated, fats. They are rich in magnesium, high in vitamin E and loaded with B vitamins.
  • Nectarines are low in calories and are naturally fat free, contain vitamin C and A which helps to maintain a healthy immune system. Nectarines are also a great source of antioxidants which can help protect the skin from damaging UV rays by counteracting free radical activity.

 

Quinoa Salad With Nectarines & Almonds Recipe

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

1 cup Quinoa
2 Cups Water
3 Medium Sized Nectarines, Pits Removed & Diced
1 Large Red Pepper, Seeded, Membranes Removed & Diced
1 Medium Sweet Onion, Peeled & Diced
1/2 Cup Fresh Parsley Leaves, Coarsely Chopped
3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Mint Leaves
Dressing:
Juice From 1 Lemon
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Liquid Honey
1 Teaspoon Grated Fresh Ginger
Salt & Pepper To Taste
To Serve:
1/2 to 3/4 Cup Lightly Toasted Sliced Almonds (See Notes Above)

Directions:

Place the quinoa in a pot with the water and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, then cook for about 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed, and the quinoa is tender to the bite.
Fluff the quinoa with a fork and let cool to room temperature.
In a bowl, place the nectarines, pepper, onion, parsley and mint and toss well.
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients, taste, and adjust as needed.
Add the cooled quinoa to the other ingredients in the bowl along with the dressing and toss well to mix.
Toss in the almonds and serve.