“Eat more whole grains.” But setting aside time to cook whole grains requires discipline and planning, since most whole grains must be cooked from scratch and that takes precious time.
One ancient grain (technically a seed), quinoa—called the “mother grain” because it is one of the most nutritious of all grains—cooks just like rice, in about 15 to 20 minutes, so it easy to plan its preparation for our gluten-free meals.
I first tasted red quinoa a few years ago at True Food Kitchen in Scottsdale—a Dr. Andrew Weil-inspired restaurant— in a salad similar to the one below. I was hooked because the flavor of red quinoa is a little less intrusive and a little more pleasantly nutty than the regular, white-tan quinoa and that makes it more versatile.
I’ve been tinkering with a red quinoa salad for awhile now and really like this vibrant, nutritious version that is also extremely flavorful. Red beets, pomegranates, and spinach are powerhouses of nutrition and the Clementines (called Cuties) add color and Vitamin C. Even beet-haters might like it because the beets are cut in shoe-strings and just blend in with all of the other wonderful parts of this salad. So, try this recipe and let me know what you think. I’m betting you’ll love it!
Red Quinoa Salad with Beets, Pomegranate Seeds, and Clementines
Red quinoa is much more colorful than white quinoa and—along with the vibrant colors from the beets and Clementines—is a stunning dish, especially when made with dark green spinach for a lovely color contrast.
1 ¾ cup vegetable broth or low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup red quinoa
¼ teaspoon salt
2 small Clementines or 1 medium orange, some segments reserved for garnish
½ can (14-ounce) shoestring beets, thoroughly drained
Seeds from 1 pomegranate (about ½ to ¾ cup), reserve some for garnish
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries
1 cup baby spinach, washed and patted dry
½ cup slivered almonds (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
[1/4] cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 medium garlic clove, minced
[1/4] teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
 In large saucepan, bring broth to boil high heat. Add quinoa and salt and cook, covered, until broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Transfer quinoa to large bowl; drain any excess broth.
 Grate the Clementine (or orange) to yield two teaspoons zest and add to quinoa, then cut Clementine into segments and add to quinoa. Add the beets, pomegranate seeds, raisins, spinach, almonds, and 2 tablespoons of parsley. Toss to combine thoroughly
 Make dressing: In small bowl or glass jar, whisk together orange juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper until blended. Slowly whisk in oil in thin stream until well combined. Add enough dressing to quinoa to coat thoroughly and serve, either in large bowl or large platter, garnished with remaining Clementine segments, pomegranate seeds, and parsley. Serves 4 as a main dish; 6 as a side dish