Quinoa is something that I’m just now learning to love. For years I’ve told you guys that I hated it and refused to even go near it. Mostly because I kind of think it looks like some kind of creature hatching out of an egg when it’s cooked.

*gag*

I’m really into it lately though. I find that the more stuff I put on it, the more I like it. So you know I loved this recipe. It’s got asparagus, red onion, kalamata olives, and feta mixed in – and three of those four are on my top 10 list of favorite foods. Plus it’s topped with a tart, lemony dressing, fresh basil, and pine nuts!

I’m kind of obsessed with this salad right now and I am officially out of leftovers so it’s a sad situation. It’s so good. I had it for lunch and dinner the past two days and could seriously keep going.

Two years ago: Easter Bread
Three years ago: Baked Chocolate Doughnuts with Buttermilk Glaze
Four years ago: Broccoli Salad

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Feta, and Pine Nuts
adapted from Style at Home
Ingredients
For the salad:
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large bunch baby asparagus stalks cut off and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives chopped
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese + more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts for garnish
For the dressing:
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly with cool water for at least 2 minutes; drain.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the drained quinoa and cook, stirring, for 1 minute to toast the grains and evaporate any remaining water.
  3. Stir in the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover and cook for 15 minutes.Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside.
  4. Steam the asparagus for 2 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Transfer the asparagus to a colander and rinse under ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain thoroughly and set aside.
  5. When cool, combine the quinoa, asparagus, olives, onion and feta cheese in a large bowl.
  6. Whisk together the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and basil in a small bowl. Add sea salt and pepper.
  7. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Top with the additional crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts and serve immediately.

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I have been saying that I wanted to try making tempura fried vegetables since the first time I had it at a sushi place 3 years ago but my hatred of frying has kept me from doing it. I had some asparagus on it’s last leg this week and decided to just get it over with.

Tempura batter is a mixture of flour and cornstarch and then seltzer is used as the liquid. It’s a really light batter that gets super crispy and delicious. It’s great on just about anything but sweet potato and asparagus are my favorite. The sauce is a honey mustard but next time I think I’m going to make some kind of wasabi sauce. For some reason, spicy really works with the tempura batter.

I doubled the recipe and could have easily eaten more. It was kind of ridiculous how much I ate. It was really, really good.

Tempura Fried Asparagus
from Rachael Ray
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup seltzer at room temperature
  • 1 pound asparagus
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard and honey.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until the temperature registers 375° on a deep-fry thermometer.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda. Whisk in the seltzer until smooth.
  4. Add the asparagus to the batter and turn to coat. Transferring one piece at a time, add about one-quarter of the asparagus to the hot oil and cook, turning, until golden and crisp, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining asparagus, allowing the oil to return to 375° between batches. Serve hot with the dipping sauce.
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