Spring is in it’s splendor; the blossoms are in full bloom and the sun shines higher in the sky each day. Folks are spending a lot more time outside biking, hiking and running. I’ve got a spring to my step these days as I absorb the sun’s warmth. Even my eating feels lighter; I’m consuming less and enjoying fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. This salad is a perfect fit for spring’s fresh perspective.
Quinoa continues to be one of my preferred whole grains. It cooks up so nicely in my rice cooker, creating perfect fluffy grains each time. Recently I served quinoa in a salad for about 60 people and ended up with a large bag of cooked quinoa. I divided it into 3 cup portions and put them in the freezer. When I needed some cooked quinoa, like for this salad, I microwaved a bag for 5 minutes at 30% power, then separated and fluffed it with a fork. Wa La! It tasted as if I had made it that day. Good to know!
Abundant asparagus on grocery store shelves still look very fresh and boast low prices. So I’ve combined some of the best ingredients of spring into this lovely little salad that can stand on it’s own thanks to the addition of edamame soy beans which provide a good protein hit. The fruits and vegetables add tons of antioxidants and phytochemicals that battle inflammation and fight disease like cancer and heart disease. The quinoa brings fiber, so useful for digestion.
The Lemon Basil Dressing nicely compliments the sweet mandarin oranges. Speaking of mandarin oranges–as a little girl, my daughter Meredith, used to eat mandarin oranges right out of the can because she loved them so much. I don’t think that has changed now that she’s in her late twenties. Some things are just too good to ever let go.
- Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing
- 1 small bunch asparagus, about 15 spears, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions (I use my rice cooker. See Note)
- 1 cup frozen edamame, shelled and thawed
- 1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
- 1/2 diced avocado
- 2 Tbsp sliced green onion
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp agave nectar
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- Place asparagus in a small microwave safe bowl. Cover and microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
- Combine cooked asparagus, quinoa, edamame, mandarin oranges, avocado, green onion and parsley in a medium bowl. Gently toss to combine.
- For the Dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients in container of food processor fitted with metal blade; cover and process until well blended.
- When ready to serve pour dressing over quinoa mixture and toss gently to combine. (Quinoa will absorbed the dressing, so if serving leftover salad you may need to redress it.)
*Prep time does not include cooking the quinoa.
*Quinoa can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen in a freezer plastic bag for up to 3 months. To thaw, place in microwave oven and defrost on 30% power for 5 minutes. Break apart and fluff with a fork.