It is well documented that I am a woman who is not shy about eating carbs, red meat, or decadent desserts. In fact, I don’t think I have ever been shy about eating any type of food. My husband and I have a joke that we’ll try anything twice; once to try it and a second try to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, ha! That love of all things food has started to expand to things I didn’t really grow up with, like quinoa and kale. Those two ingredients have been fairly recent revelations for me and I am hooked. It’s fantastic to know that there are these amazing, healthy power foods that also are so tasty to eat. Case in point is this warm Middle Eastern quinoa salad. I’ve put the deep flavors of my beloved Middle Eastern cuisine into one power packed salad that acts as a complete meal. The best part is I got it on the table in less than 30 minutes! I got a large rondeau pan on my stove and heated a dash of my favorite truffle infused olive oil in it over medium high heat. Then a big can of chickpeas went in with half of the bean liquid along with a bunch of diced up butternut squash. My little shortcut here was that I bought the butternut squash already pre-diced! I let that all simmer together for 2-3 minutes. Then I added a ton of kale, dried apricots, dried currants, garlic, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, coriander, chopped walnuts for crunch, two different vinegars (blueberry balsamic and apple cider vinegar) for a sweet acidity and veggie stock. That all got a big old stir. How I did that without getting the mixture everywhere, I do not know. That pan was full but it all cooks down, I promise!
I turned the heat to low and let that mixture meld together for 15 minutes to let everything get tender. Meanwhile, I made the quinoa part of the warm Middle Eastern quinoa salad. In a small pot I brought two cups of veggie stock to a boil and added a pinch of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric and coriander to spice it up. When it was boiling I got a cup of uncooked quinoa into it and gave it a stir. Then the pot got covered and the heat was turned to low. The quinoa needed to cook for about 12-15 minutes, until the liquid was absorbed and it was tender. When it was done, I fluffed it up with a fork.
I transferred the quinoa into the pan with the rest of the glorious warm Middle Eastern quinoa salad and gave everything a big toss. It was as easy as that! I scooped it out into big bowls and topped the salads off with roughly chopped cilantro for some extra freshness. Oh my goodness, this salad was the total package. I may sound bizarre saying this but it was meaty without having one bit of meat in it. Marc and I were stuffed just having one serving, so there were leftovers for the next day! Quick, so flavorful and really healthy…this warm Middle Eastern quinoa salad was my kind of meal!