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Asparagus Quinoa Salad

In this asparagus quinoa salad, fresh asparagus is roasted with pistachios and then mixed with quinoa and a homemade honey-garlic vinaigrette.  The result is a salad rich in superfoods, with lots of flavor and tons of nutrients.  It’s the perfect salad to take to a picnic, to enjoy with lunch, or to use as a side dish at dinner.  It’s light, while at the same time satisfying and filling.

DSC_0679I love how fluid recipes can be.  They are never exactly the same twice, and they bring with them stories, memories, and reminders of friends or family members who have shared or contributed to the recipes.  The same goes for sharing meals with others too.  We get ideas from one another and build on our conversations and memories.

asparagus quinoa salad 1Quinoa salad has been on my mind lately for a number of reasons.  My soccer mom/walking buddies have been making versions of it and we’ve been exchanging ideas, plus my mother is on a quinoa kick as well.  The other day when we were over at her house, she made some asparagus and quinoa separately, but they ended up getting mixed up on my plate, and they tasted great together.  I knew I wanted asparagus in my next quinoa salad.

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In addition to vegetables, one of my friends likes to put nuts in her quinoa salads. The only nuts I have in the house right now are pistachios. I thought those would be good with the asparagus too.  Little did I know that when I googled asparagus and pistachios, lots of recipes came up! Apparently I was not the only one who thought this would be a good combination.  The following asparagus quinoa salad recipe is very basic, and based loosely on a few different recipes I found, my own experience with asparagus and quinoa, plus input from friends and my mother.  That’s what I mean about recipes being so fluid.  They are influenced by those we talk with or read about, plus by what is in season, and what we have on hand.  They are like living, breathing entities sometimes, changing with the weather and the circumstances.

This asparagus quinoa salad is really satisfying.  The nutty flavor of the quinoa blends deliciously with the pistachios and asparagus, and the vinaigrette gives it just the right amount of sweetness and zing.  Feel free to add other vegetables you have in your kitchen, and if you are in a hurry, just add your favorite salad dressing instead of making it from scratch.  The versatility of quinoa is one of its strongest attributes, along with its huge health benefits. I plan to make versions of this salad all summer long, depending on which vegetables are in season.

I hope you all have a great weekend! The weather here has been gorgeous.  I can’t believe it’s already June.  The kids will be out of school soon.  It’s been a full few days around here, with a soccer tournament and a state track meet, along with end-of-the-school-year events and other gatherings too.  I have not had a chance to visit other blogs like is enjoy doing.  I hope to catch up on that this weekend.  At this time of the year, with the beautiful weather and flowers blooming, I always hear my grandpa’s voice quoting part of a James Russell Lowell poem: “And what is so rare as a day in June?  Then, if ever, come perfect days….” I hope you enjoy some beautiful June days.asparagus and pistachioschopped asparagusquinoa and asparagusThis recipe will be shared over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Aruna @ Aharam.

Asparagus Quinoa Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients:

  • about 1 pound (or one bunch) of asparagus
  • 1/2 cup of roasted and salted pistachios, shelled
  • 1 cup of quinoa, cooked
  • a couple sprigs of fresh mint (optional)

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove the pistachios from their shells and measure them to 1/2 cup.  Wash the asparagus and snap off the tough ends.  Chop the asparagus into bite-sized pieces.  Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.  Spread the asparagus pieces and pistachios into a single layer on the baking sheet and gently toss with the olive oil.  Bake in your 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes, checking to see that the asparagus is tender, and removing it when the asparagus is just-tender.

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in according to the package directions.  When the quinoa is done (expanded, tender and all the water is absorbed), transfer it to a large bowl and let it cool some.  When the asparagus is done, let it cool some as well.

While things are cooling, mix up the vinaigrette in a glass container.  Combine the olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, and mined garlic, and stir well.  If you have a glass bottle with a screw top, combine the dressing in there and shake.

Then mix the asparagus/pistachio mixture with the quinoa in the bowl, and pour the vinaigrette in as well.  Stir gently but thoroughly to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.  Add some chopped fresh mint leaves if you wish.  Serve at room temperature.  Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

 

 

16 Comments

  1. Oh Wow! I will try this. Question, do you snip off those triangle things on the asparagus on the stalk part? This recipe would be great for a book club meeting!

    • Jenny

      June 3, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      Thank you, Ginger! I don’t trim off the triangle things….I hope you enjoy the salad if you try it! 🙂

  2. This is gorgeous,and I’m pretty sure I’ll make it with some of asparagus in the fridge!! Pinning!!

    Happy FF!!!

  3. Gorgeous! I really don’t love quinoa, but just aobut any grain or even couscous could be substituted.

    • Jenny

      June 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      Thank you, Mimi! Yes, any grain could be used, and I agree that couscous would be a great substitute. It took awhile for quinoa to grow on me, but now I really like it. 🙂

  4. This sounds like a delicious and healthy summer salad.

  5. So healthy and satisfying. The vinaigrette sounds like the perfect touch here to balance out the nuttiness. I love that your soccer mom walking buddies inspired it. This is a great spring recipe!

    • Jenny

      June 5, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      Thank you, Amanda! Yes, I love getting inspiration from talking with others about food. The possibilities are endless! 🙂

  6. What a perfect dish! I just love how you’ve taken the time to develop the separate flavors before combining them.

  7. Sounds delish, Jenny! Pistachios, mint, asparagus… perfect! 🙂

  8. Quinoa and asparagus, 2 of my favorite ingredients! I am going to try your delicious looking version. Thanks for sharing!

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