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Magic (Quinoa) Salad

Nothing special to report for Mother’s Day, I’m afraid. I woke up early, with that morning-after dread triggered by the realization I went a little overboard on party nibbles (spring rolls! ginger pork! curried chicken toasts!) and birthday cake (the kind with the cheap shortening icing that coats your mouth and would make swell undereye cream!) last night. I had a bit of a food hangover. Mike had another kind, which is why he didn’t stir until after I had long since woken up with W, and had already made him breakfast to eat while watching Dora (the Mothers’ Day special). Humph.

I had to work today, anyway. So I got the kitchen clean enough to work on recipes and photos for a couple magazine assignments, and I went shopping for a long list of ingredients for my class at Red Deer College tonight. I was feeling a little sorry for myself, and so made a grainy salad to bring on the drive, and to eat before class, lest I talk myself thru a drive thru or ravenously devour half the finished products at our baking class. This has been on my mind for a few days:

Melissa W on 06 May 2011 at 12:59 pm: I make a similar incarnation of this salad using quinoa, sautéed leeks, celery, lemon/olive oil, feta and cranberries. Oh, and toasted pine nuts or toasted almonds. Glorious! It is magical. We call it Magic Salad, in fact.

I could not not try this. It is indeed magical. I hope I did it justice. I tried not to eat all the crispy fried leeks straight out of the pan. Note to self: think of other things to do with crispy leeks.

You won’t need a recipe, really. Just cook up some quinoa (see below), and cut the white and pale green part off the bottom of a leek, cut it in half lengthwise and rinse it well, getting in between all the layers. Thinly slice it and saute in a drizzle of oil and blob of butter until golden and crispy. Cool and add it to the cooled quinoa along with a finely chopped celery stalk, half cup crumbled feta, quarter cup (ish) dried cranberries and toasted pine nuts or almonds (walnuts would do well too, I think); dress with olive oil (I thought extra-virgin was a bit overwhelming, but that’s just me), lemon juice and freshly ground pepper. Yum. Thanks Melissa!

(To cook quinoa, rinse it well under cool water in a fine sieve, then cook in a pot of boiling salted water over medium heat until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Just like you’d cook pasta. Drain well, return to the pot, put the lid back on and let it steam – this will produce fluffy quinoa – until cooled.)


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18 comments on “Magic (Quinoa) Salad

  1. Jenn
    May 9, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Is Mother’s Day kinda like New Years Eve? You know, one of those anti-climactic (and ultimately disappointing) holidays? This was my first one (last year my daughter was 2 weeks old and my husband overseas). I would have though the day involved less of me scouring stores for a weight bar for my husband, fighting crowds at Costco while ignoring all the flowers other people’s families were buying, doing dishes, finding a new recycling depot to drop off our junk at when I discovered my regular one was blocked off by the Mother’s Day Run, cleaning floors, cooking, installing cupboard door safety latches (with a dying cordless drill battery) and dealing with diaper rash and temper tantrums (mostly mine). But thanks to you, Julie, we had delicious cream scones for breakfast and great fries and chicken fingers for supper. So I guess it wasn’t all bad :)

  2. JulieVR
    May 9, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Yahoo! silver linings!

  3. Carol SB
    May 9, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Your timing with this salad is impeccable.
    Portable lunches, anyone? Just when spring hits (please stay, spring.) and we all want a nice salad… and one to take with us to work/ school.
    Ha ha! I recommend you take W. out after school today and get yourself a nice bunch of flowers. I’m not talkin’ Safeway, here: go to a florist. Ask for something really nice. And let him/ her create you something lovely, on the spot. What I recommend:
    Wild about Flowers in Marda Loop. 2133A 33 Ave S.W.
    House specialty—a dutch hand-tied bouquet ($30 and up, $45-$50 average), “a compact arrangement that stands on its own stems and is easily carried”. Let W. choose a bunch of tulips (Did you know they usually last longer than roses? I was so happy to learn that!) and let her design around it. W’ll be happy to please you… and he’ll learn to do it right next year!

  4. Avery
    May 9, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Oh boo…BOOOOOO! Mike needs to rectify things, pronto! You deserve a great Mom’s Day, with massages and cards and stuff. Carpe Mother’s Day!! Seize it! My Mike made my parents and I a great brunch with lattes and mimosas, rustic chorizo strata with fontina, citrus salad with ginger yogurt topping, delicious crepes and spicy-sweet bacon. And let me sleep in until 8:45 (luxury)! I’m not writing this to rub it in, just to say that you definitely deserve it too!

  5. Melissa W
    May 9, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Well! This has made MY morning. Glad you tried and liked that salad, and that you had it on Mothers’ Day. I’m going to tell my mom about this. She’s the one who gave me my first Julie cookbook.
    Julie, I missed meeting you by mere seconds on Saturday. My husband and I were in Inglewood at Knifewear getting our knives sharpened, and then popped in to the kitchen store down the street before we went to Zyn for wine-tasting.
    As we drove away, we saw a commotion right around where we had just been…a crowd of people…I peered out the window to see what was going on, and just about caused Doug to crash the car when I shrieked “OMGit’sJulieVanRosendaal!!”

    I was all star-struck. Doug called me a nerd. I reminded him of the reason we are able to eat so many Raincoast crackers. :)

  6. Vivian
    May 9, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Ladies, your comments on this one were very entertaining, right along the lines of Julie’s blog stories. I’m with Carol SB…get yourself to that florist (even a day late) and with W., to choose a special bouquet! Nothing like flowers to lift the mood, celebrate, be proud and appreciated as a Mom and to welcome spring…it really IS here! Oh, great SALAD to try as well.

  7. Vivian
    May 9, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Oh, one last thing. Tulips not only seem to last longer that roses, they are EDIBLE too. Think of a little glass dessert vessel, lined with a lovely pink or mauve tulip (pistil and stamens removed) filled with a scoop of sherbet or vanilla ice cream and beautifully garnished.

  8. Alyson
    May 9, 2011 at 9:08 am

    I think I’m in love! The recipe sounds great – perfect (with the removal of the cheese) for my week of vegan eats!

  9. Kelly
    May 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Yeah! And a fab addition to a gluten free diet!

    Thanks Julie!

  10. Francie
    May 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I was just wondering what to do with the HUGE bag of quinoa that I bought at Cost-Co a few months ago. That salad looks wonderful. I need a few more grain salad recipes to stash in the fridge. Thanks.

  11. Dan
    May 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I love a good quinoa salad! Especially in the spring or summer.

    I hope you get a great Mother’s Day celebration some time this week. You defintiely deserve it!

    On a slightly unrelated note, I remember the very first time I tweeted at you was last year on Mother’s Day! :)

  12. kickpleat
    May 9, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Who wouldn’t love a magic salad? I’m not a fan of quinoa, but I love millet so I’d sub in millet instead. And now I want crispy leeks too!!

  13. Ruth
    May 10, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Yum! This recipe makes me think of a rice sald that my mom used to make. It had wild rice, chicken, pineapple, green onions and some type of sweet spicy dressing. I should see if she still has the recipe…

  14. Samantha in London
    May 11, 2011 at 5:46 am

    Yum – love quinoa. Costco has bags of ready rinsed … saves a step.

  15. Lisa
    May 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm


    Check this story out-I had no idea that I should be checking the origin of the pine nuts my family consumes. An interesting story!

    Love the recipe Julie, can hardly wait to try it-looks delicious!

  16. Kristin
    May 11, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    LOVE quinoa! I love the variety too, I just printed four of the recipes you had posted on here, thanks!

  17. Beverley M
    May 17, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I’m making this tonight!

  18. Beverley M
    May 17, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    So I turned out to be scared of burning the leeks… how do you make them crispy? Cook hotter & longer than sauteed usually would do? They were starting to turn brown so I chickened out and turned it off, so they’re soft with brown bits.

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