Quinoa is one of my all-time favorite grains. That fact that it's hailed as a superfood makes it all the better, but I'd love it still even if it didn't enjoy such a vaunted health status. This morning, a number of my girlfriends came over for a wonderfully fun morning of breakfast, tea and laughter. After a couple hours, I realized I needed to get hopping on tonight's dinner for the Grands and so set a pot of water to boil for my favorite summer quinoa salad. A good thing I did because shortly thereafter, I lost all power in my home; at that point I gave another great thanks for my gas stove. But back to the salad. The Grands have each got a hell of a palate, so I generally make for them what I'm also going to be making for us. I do think they'll love this fruity-grainy-zippy concoction as much as I do. Right now, I'm devouring my own portion for lunch.
Just after the quinoa is done cooking, I drain and then tip it into a glass bowl. Immediately, I toss in dried apricots, raisins and roasted pistachios, mint, scallions, and parsley and cilantro if I've got them. The vinaigrette is comprised of lime juice and zest, olive oil, some of the cooking liquid from the quinoa, a host of spices (cumin, coriander, paprika), jalapeño (or, in a pinch, cayenne), mirin (in a pinch, seasoned rice vinegar + agave syrup) and a few other tidbits of taste. I love this dish because it's portable, can be made ahead, is easily doubled, can be served room temp or cold, is forgiving, is simple and just rocks my taste buds. This is an awesome salad to accompany BBQs and picnics, and it is perfect for the quickly-approaching 4th of July!