Saturday, June 11, 2011

Weekend Cooking; Quinoa Salad with Fennel-Yes, Fennel.

Fragrant Fennel Bulb

I googled quinoa the other day looking for a recipe idea and this is what I found:

Quinoa Salad with Apples, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, and Gouda

by Anne Thomas

1-1/2 cups quinoa, preferably red

Sea salt

5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed

1 large red onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

4 oz. arugula, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)

4 oz. aged Gouda, finely diced (about 1 cup)

3 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced

1 large, crisp apple, such as Fuji or Pink Lady, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 cup finely diced fennel

3/4 cup dried cranberries

3 Tbs. sherry vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper
In a bowl, rinse the quinoa with water, rubbing it between your fingers for about 10 seconds. Drain and transfer it to a 3-quart pot. Add 2-1/2 cups water and 1/2 tsp. sea salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, covered, until the quinoa is tender but still delicately crunchy, about 15 minutes.

Drain the quinoa and return it to the pot. Cover and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes; then fluff it with a fork. Let cool to room temperature.

While the quinoa cooks, heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring frequently, until tender and brown around the edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and toss with the onions until the vinegar cooks away, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, onions, arugula, cheese, celery, apple, walnuts, fennel, and cranberries.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil with the sherry vinegar, 1/2 tsp. sea salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Add the dressing to the salad and gently mix it in. Let rest a moment; then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil if the salad seems dry.

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I meant to make it for a church picnic but found in my dry storage jar cupboard-No Quinoa...No Quinoa!  I did have two different types of couscous but that wouldn't do so instead of running to the grocery store at 8:30 on a Saturday night I made something else. 

I made the salad on Monday...my first official day off from teaching.  The salad combined many of my favorite flavors such as Gouda, apples and arugula.  What was unexpected was the fennel.  I've never, ever made a recipe with fennel in it!  I loved cutting into it though as I am a HUGE fan of black jelly beans and that sort of dark licorice smell wafted up at me, I took a nibble and it hinted of it.  Wow.  My first fennel foray.  Anybody else out there been afraid of fennel?  Or is it something you use frequently?