Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Quinoa Salad with Preserved Lemon Dressing and Pine Nuts

I have a jar of Preserved Lemons that I wanted to use and decided to make a salad dressing. But I needed a heartier salad for lunch, so I decided to use Quinoa as it is full of protein, B Vitamins and minerals. The flavor of preserved lemons is wonderful - it reminds me of a savory marmalade and adds a kind of mysterious lemon flavor that simply can't be replicated. It's easy to find and although I brought back a bottle from my trip to Israel, you can even get it at Trader Joe's.  And my friends in California tell me it is even easier to make them but you do need a source of good lemons and lots of salt.  

I cooked Quinoa, which is a seed not a grain and therefore Gluten Free. I used a mixture of black, red and white Quinoa - and then added in chopped cucumber, tomatoes and pine nuts. The dressing was made of Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, minced Preserved Lemon, lightly cooked onion and garlic, cumin and cayenne. You could use the garlic and onion raw if you prefer, but I wanted the flavor to be a bit more mellow so that the Preserved Lemon wasn't overpowered. It was delicious! I could barely stop eating it long enough to refrigerate it, but did manage to save some and it tasted even better after the flavors melded.  I loved it and I'm now thinking of more ways to incorporate Preserved Lemons in my cooking.

Quinoa Salad with Preserved Lemon Dressing and Pine Nuts

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup Quinoa
2 cups Water
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Pine Nuts toasted
1 cup Cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into small chunks
1 cup cut up Cherry Tomatoes

Salad Dressing

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 cup Red Onion, chopped
1 large Garlic Clove minced
1/4 cup minced Preserved Lemon
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

In a small saucepan, heat Olive Oil and add in Quinoa. Cook until Quinoa gets hot then add in Water and salt.  Bring to a boil, cover and turn down heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes and then remove from the heat and let sit for an additional 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the Cherry Tomatoes and Cucumbers in a salad bowl.  Heat a small frying pan and put in Olive Oil. Then add in the onions and garlic. Cook until the onion just becomes soft. Then add in the Preserved Lemon.  Remove to a bowl and add in the Lemon Juice, Salt, Cumin and Cayenne Pepper.  Stir to mix.  Then add to the Cucumbers and Tomatoes and toss to mix. When Quinoa is cool, add in and stir thoroughly.  Sprinkle on the Pine Nuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve

Five Element Analysis

Quinoa is a seed so it belongs to the Water Element and the salt in the Preserved Lemons adds a bit more, although they are part of the Wood Element too. The Lemon Juice and Olive Oil add even more of the Wood Element.  The Fire Element is represented by the Tomatoes and Cayenne Pepper. The Cumin, Garlic and Onion bring in the Metal Element. Only the Earth Element is missing so either serve a sweet dessert or pair it with a Main Dish that's Earthy - perhaps something made with Beef, which is an Earth meat to balance out the Elemental Makeup.  

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