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from my table: spring quinoa salad

May 8, 2011

Somewhere, among all the cookies and scones and cakes and breads, I do eat vegetables. And as spring breezes in, it’s just about time for my favorite veggie treat of all: ASPARAGUS.

I eat roasted asparagus like it’s crack. Drizzle on a little olive oil, some kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, pop it in a 400° oven for about 10 minutes and I eat the little devils off the tray with my bare hands. It’s ecstasy. Pure, green, snappy, toasty ecstasy. It usually goes something like this…

…pick up asparagus off the tray, yell, “Damn, this is hot!”

…proceed to tip my head back and lower the asparagus all in one piece into my mouth like a fire-eater.

…dance around, make “mmmmm”ing noises that are inappropriately loud

…repeat until the whole tray is gone and I realize I forgot to eat the rest of my dinner

Anyway, after that flattering mental image you now have of me, let’s talk about this salad.  This salad is a way to incorporate the crack-like qualities of roasted asparagus into some protein and other fresh, springy flavors. If you find yourself like me, gobbling up all your asparagus stove-side before you get it to the table, may I suggest you make a little more asparagus than you need for the salad. You know, chef’s snack.

I made this salad for Easter and it was fresh and delicious; it’s one of those beautiful things that just gets better the longer it sits. I took it to work for a few days in a row for lunch and creeped out my co-workers as I kept offering them forkfuls. I just wanted to share this glorious flavor palate, but I think they probably weren’t down with sharing my fork (apparently, not everyone is excited enough about asparagus to look past communicable diseases).

I suggest making this salad the night before you plan on eating it; tossing the hot quinoa with the vinaigrette helps it really soak up all the delightful flavors.

Spring Quinoa Salad

1/2 lb. asparagus, trimmed
2 TBSP. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 c. quinoa
2 c. water
1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese
Zest of one lemon
2 TBSP. chopped fresh mint
Juice of 1 lemon
2 TBSP. white wine*
2 TBSP. white vinegar*
1/3 to 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

*I used white wine and white vinegar because I didn’t have any white wine vinegar. If you have it, use 4 TBSP of the white white vinegar in place of the wine and vinegar combo.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the asparagus with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes until the spears are lightly caramelized on the bottom. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cutting board to cool. Once cool, cut them into 1-inch pieces and set aside.


Combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.

While the quinoa is cooking, assemble the feta, lemon zest, chopped mint and cooled asparagus in a large bowl and set aside. Whisk the lemon juice, white wine, vinegar and salt and pepper. Pour in the olive oil while whisking vigorously, until the dressing is emulsified.


Once the quinoa is cooked, while it’s still hot, scoop it into the bowl with the feta, lemon zest, mint and asparagus. Pour the dressing over and toss well. Chill overnight and serve either cold or room temperature.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Scout permalink
    May 8, 2011 6:29 pm

    I love you. I know what I am eating tonight. I went to this really really really kick-ass vegan place I will have to take you to when you come back. (which better be soon missy). I ate a lentil loaf with a beet sauce, collard greens, mashed potatoes with savory mushroom gravy and roasted almonds with cayenne pepper and lime juice. It actually brought tears to my eyes.
    Miss you.

  2. Aban Jasoomani permalink
    May 8, 2011 10:35 pm

    i can’t wait to consume this. all of it. in one sitting.

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