Quinoa Salad with Asparagus
Protein, vegetables, and flavor. What more can one want in a dish? This Quinoa Salad with Asparagus also happens to be pretty and vegan-friendly. It’s a win on many levels.
Where does the protein in this dish come from? Quinoa.
How to Cook Quinoa
Pronounced KEEN-wah, it is an edible seed from a plant in the amaranth family. While it is considered a whole-grain carb, it is also a whole protein because it contains all nine amino acids. That is unusual for a plant-based protein and part of why quinoa has become so popular with vegans and vegetarians.
With 8 grams of protein per cup, quinoa is a nutritious substitute for rice, oats, and other grains in salads, savory dishes, and even breakfast cereal. It is high in fiber and cooks quickly. I like that it holds its shape and does not sog out when dressed with a sauce or vinaigrette.
The quinoa-to-water ratio is one cup of quinoa to two cups of water or broth. To avoid a mushy texture, always cook quinoa uncovered. Once it has absorbed all the liquid, remove it from the heat, cover it, and let it steam for a few minutes before serving.
Cooked quinoa pairs nicely with chicken, fish, and other meats. It is especially good in grain salads like the one here and vegetables. Like asparagus.
It’s one of those foods that are low in calories but high in nutrients. Asparagus stems can be green, white, or purple and are grown both commercially and in home gardens. They are a popular springtime vegetable but can be found year-round in grocery stores.
I can hear you snickering now. Yes, it makes your pee smell funny thanks to the asparagusic acid that your body breaks down after ingesting the bright green stalks. You can blame the sulfur molecules for the stink.
Actually, not everyone’s urine smells after eating asparagus and not everyone can smell it. Surprised? Me too.
Genetic analysis company 23andMe has identified an asparagus-pee gene (I am not making this up) from the thousands of genes that it studies. There are specific genes in your DNA that determine whether you can smell asparagus urine and if you produce it.
I don’t mean to brag, but I can do both.
- Use any kind of quinoa you like. I chose tri-color, a mix of white, red, and black quinoa because it was available at my local grocery store. Plus, it’s pretty!
- Roasted asparagus would be delicious, too. Maybe even better than this quick-boiled version. Hmm, next time I may have to try it that way.
- Not into the skinny carrots? Leave them off. I think they add a pop of color, but you’re an adult so do what you want.
Many thanks to Parade for their asparagus, hazelnut, and mint salad.Print
- 1 lb asparagus
- 1 cup quinoa
- ¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
- 3 to 5 small carrots with tops on
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of boiling water seasoned with ½ teaspoon salt. For more flavor, you can cook it in vegetable broth. Let simmer uncovered on medium heat until all the liquid is gone and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove it from the heat, put the top on the pot, and let it steam for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork.
- Prepare a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Set this near the stovetop as the ice bath for the asparagus.
- Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Trim the woody ends from the asparagus and cut the stalks into 1-inch pieces. Drop asparagus into the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes until just crisp-tender. With a slotted spoon, remove the pieces from the saucepan and immediately plunge them into the ice water bath to stop the cooking. Once the asparagus is cool, drain it and then spread it out on paper towels to dry.
- Dip the carrots into the boiling water while holding onto the green tops. Let them cook for a few minutes to slightly soften. They will still have some crunch to them.
- Make the vinaigrette by combining lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, and olive oil in a small mason jar. Salt and pepper to taste. Screw on the lid and shake until the ingredients are combined.
- Assemble the salad by combining the quinoa, asparagus, mint, parsley, and green onions in a large bowl. Add about half the vinaigrette and toss together. Pour the quinoa mixture evenly onto a serving platter or large shallow bowl. Scatter the nuts to garnish the top. Arrange the carrots on the side to add color.
Keywords: quinoa salad with asparagus