It seems like quinoa has been portrayed to be the newest superfood that everyone should rush to use. This one, however, I agree with. I have used quinoa as a key ingredient, or even the main ingredient, in several recipes like this one. Quinoa has been around for centuries, but as people experiment and use it in different recipes we are appreciating it more and more.
Quinoa vs. Rice
For pregnancy, or for women’s health in general, I prefer women to choose quinoa over white rice. It has less calories and carbohydrates than white rice, but close to 5 grams of fiber and protein that rice does not. Quinoa is one of the few foods that contains all nine essential amino acids. For pregnancy, one serving of quinoa provides enough protein, iron, fiber, thiamine, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorous and folate. And it’s gluten free.
Quinoa alone is not that tasty. It has a nutty, earthy taste and texture that begs to be combined with other ingredients. In summer, I like to turn quinoa into a healthy salad with grilled vegetables and fresh herbs. This grilled asparagus and quinoa salad is easy to make and can be used as a side dish to bring to a picnic or family event, or to have as a main course or lunch. Plus, the asparagus provides additional vitamins and fiber. The vinaigrette is made with fresh basil and can be used on salads, fish, or chicken. Kick off your summer with this great salad!
Grilled Asparagus and Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 2 lemons
- 2 lb asparagus (or 2 bundles)
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups packed basil leaves
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 plum or Roma tomato, seeded and diced
- 1 container (8 ounces) fresh mozzarella pearls (or bocconcini)
- Salt and Pepper
- Cook the quinoa according to the package directions and set aside.
- Grate 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and set aside. Squeeze 3 tablespoons lemon juice set aside.
- Set grill to High (or use a grill pan over high heat on the stove).
- Trim an inch off the bottom of the asparagus spears. Toss the spears with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, the lemon zest, salt and pepper.
- Grill the asparagus spears for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, turning often to avoid burning. The asparagus should be fork-tender and have a slight char all around. Allow to cool then cut into pieces
- Using a food processor, pulse the basil, garlic clove, lemon juice, salt and pepper until chopped. Slowly add in the remaining tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until well mixed. If the mixture looks too dry, add more extra virgin olive oil.
- Put the cooked quinoa in a bowl. Add in the asparagus, tomato and then the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Add the mozzarella pearls or bocconcini prior to serving.