• Summer Quinoa Salad

by Buffy Ellen 0 Comments

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What are you making for Xmas day? Team salad, or team dessert? If you’re on the former, I’ve got you covered. This salad is THE essence of summer - sweet pomegranate, fresh asparagus, creamy avo, crunchy hazelnuts, fluffy quinoa, all doused in possibly the world’s best balsamic vinaigrette.

This salad is everything you love about summer – sweet pomegranate, fresh asparagus, creamy avo, crunchy hazelnuts, fluffy quinoa, all doused in the world’s best balsamic vinaigrette. Vegan, gluten + dairy free.

Yes, this Summer Quinoa Salad is…

  • Done in 20 minutes,
  • The perfect mix of sweet, salty, tangy, crunchy, and creamy,
  • Vegan, dairy and gluten free – so will keep everyone happy,
  • A beautiful rainbow of summery produce at its best, and
  • EXACTLY what you need for your Xmas lunch this year!            

I had leftovers of this for lunch yesterday, and could I say it was even better on day 2? This is food and flavour in perfect harmony. But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. While pomegranate, asparagus, and avos are in season, how can you afford not to! 

Let’s get making rainbows…

This salad is everything you love about summer – sweet pomegranate, fresh asparagus, creamy avo, crunchy hazelnuts, fluffy quinoa, all doused in the world’s best balsamic vinaigrette. Vegan, gluten + dairy free.

Come on over Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’) forms the base of this salad, and is truly an ancient grain going way back to the Inca civilisation. Back then, it was revered as the “mother of all grains”, and has in recent years become somewhat of a “super grain” in the Western world. It is one of the least allergenic foods, and can be substituted for almost any grain in any recipe. Rice, couscous, pasta, oats - you name it! Quinoa can hop in there for them all, to add a bit of variety and nutrient-spice to your diet.

This salad is everything you love about summer – sweet pomegranate, fresh asparagus, creamy avo, crunchy hazelnuts, fluffy quinoa, all doused in the world’s best balsamic vinaigrette. Vegan, gluten + dairy free.

If you're not quite sold on quinoa yet, here are a few reasons why you might like to include this fabulous food in your diet...

  • Antioxidant flavonoids – it contains high levels of the antioxidant flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol, higher even than in some berries.
  • Anti-inflammatory  research has shown quinoa to be an anti-inflammatory food, due to high levels of phytonutrients, not only flavonoids, but also phenolic acids, gamma tocopherol, polysaccharides, as well as small amounts of ALA omega 3 essential fatty acids.
  • Complete protein – quinoa has a significant amount of lysine and isoleucine, two amino acids which are lower in most other grains. As a result, quinoa can be served as a complete protein (akin to meat, which has assimilated all aminos and combined them already). In total it contains over 14% protein, not that far below meat at ~18-20%.
  • Low GI – with a rating of 53, quinoa will provide you with long-lasting sustained energy (no blood sugar highs and lows).
  • Naturally gluten free – quinoa is a great grain for gluten-free diets, or anyone with an autoimmune condition, who may be sensitive to high intakes of refined gluten containing foods.
  • Fibre – quinoa is also packed with fibre, which has been shown to be beneficial in reducing levels of circulating estrogen and other toxins in the body – fibre binds to these and enables them to be eliminated in bile and through the GI tract, as opposed to them being reabsorbed and circulating once more in the body.

In specifics, the amount of cooked quinoa you'll get from this salad (½ c cooked per serve), provides a grand total of 111 calories, 4.1 grams of protein, 2.6g of fibre, 1.4 g of iron, as well as high levels of manganese, copper, phosphorous, magnesium, folate, and zinc. So an all round nutrient extravaganza!

This salad is everything you love about summer – sweet pomegranate, fresh asparagus, creamy avo, crunchy hazelnuts, fluffy quinoa, all doused in the world’s best balsamic vinaigrette. Vegan, gluten + dairy free.

I’ve used this delicious White Quinoa from Chantal Organics. It has a lovely light nutty flavour, and cooks up beautifully. When you’re sourcing quinoa, it’s really important to purchase one that’s certified organic and thus fairly traded. As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, products that are grown in developing countries, are likely to be purchased from farmers at very low prices, so that the sourcing companies can make maximum profit. Those countries generally do not have fair trade laws, minimum wages, or even working standards. Purchasing products that are certified organic, like Chantal Organics’ quinoa, inherently means that the farmers growing the product are being paid a fair wage. The organic certification (that you should be able to see on the back of the packet), can only be achieved if this is so.

Note also, that the rampant rise in quinoa’s popularity in the West, has meant that in many areas of South America, the price of quinoa is so high that the locals can no longer afford it themselves (it’s more lucrative to sell it abroad). So when you do purchase your quinoa, choose wisely (certified organic such as Chantal is best), and have it in moderation as part of varied diet.

Back to this salad. It’s amazing! All the flavours of summer, rolled into one. A few tips here, which I’ve detailed more in the notes below the recipe...

  1. Be sure to salt and flavour your quinoa and asparagus after cooking (it just tastes better).
  2. See my pomegranate seed extracting tips and photo below – finally – no pith!
  3. This balsamic dressing does contain a few ingredients, but it’s literally a blitz and go job – this recipe makes a full 2 cups, but it lasts for 2-3 weeks so you’ll have incredible salads for days.
  4. I used apple syrup in my dressing and can I just say yum! Would definitely recommend if you have it handy - it adds a lovely tangy sweetness that pairs beautifully with the other dressing ingredients. And...
  5. Any herbs will go in this dressing! So grab what's in your garden and get blitzing.

This salad is everything you love about summer – sweet pomegranate, fresh asparagus, creamy avo, crunchy hazelnuts, fluffy quinoa, all doused in the world’s best balsamic vinaigrette. Vegan, gluten + dairy free.

This salad is everything you love about summer – sweet pomegranate, fresh asparagus, creamy avo, crunchy hazelnuts, fluffy quinoa, all doused in the world’s best balsamic vinaigrette. Vegan, gluten + dairy free.

Tag me if you make this for your Christmas day lunch, or just over summer in general! On Instagram you can use @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics, or leave me a note on FB here. I would love to see your Christmas spread, with hopefully this divine Summer Quinoa Salad making an appearance in the midst!

Thanks for reading, and til next week – stay happy and well.

x Buffy-Ellen

PS If you like this recipe, I’d love you to pin it on Pinterest, share it on Facebook, post your recreation on Instagram (tag me @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics), or share it with your family and friends. Also, if you're not already subscribed to my weekly recipe emails, be sure to do that here, and don't miss my next recipe video by signing up to my YouTube here

If you’re interested in one-on-one advice, I have a small number of Naturopathic and Nutrition consultations available each week, either in person or via Skype – you can find more information on those here.

Summer Quinoa Salad

This salad is everything you love about summer – sweet pomegranate, fresh asparagus, creamy avo, crunchy hazelnuts, fluffy quinoa, all doused in the world’s best balsamic vinaigrette. Vegan, gluten + dairy free.

VeganVegetarianPaleoDairy FreeGluten FreeWheat FreeNut FreeSugar FreeSoy FreeContains Organic IngredientsCruelty Free

Print the recipe here!
Please note - if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements above, please be sure to read my notes below the recipe.

Serves 4-6 as a side, or 2 as a light main

Takes 20 mins 
 
Make with

Want to make this recipe but missing an ingredient? Simply click on the ingredient link to go to our store and order it online. We deliver to NZ, Australia and internationally daily.

Always use certified organic, local and fairly traded ingredients wherever possible 

Quinoa
1/2 c quinoa
1 c water
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
Pinch sea salt

Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus (~2 c), trimmed
1/2 tsp olive oil
Pinch sea salt

Salad
6 c lettuce (mixed - butter crunch/head, fancy, rocket)
1/2 c micro greens
2 radishes
1/2 pomegranate 
1/3 c activated hazelnuts
1/2 avocado

Balsamic Dressing (makes 2 cups)
1/3 c balsamic vinegar
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
1/3 c water
2 tbsp stoneground mustard
1 tbsp liquid sweetener (apple syrup works great here!)
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 shallot
1 clove garlic
1/2 c cold-pressed olive oil
1/2 c cold-pressed chia seed oil
1/4 c fresh herbs (e.g. basil, parsley, oregano, thyme)

c = 250ml cup, tbsp = 15ml tablespoon, tsp = 5ml teaspoon

How to
  1. Quinoa: Rinse quinoa (or soak overnight), then drain in a fine sieve.
  2. Cook quinoa and water for 15 minutes, until water has completely absorbed and the quinoa has a fluffy texture. Remove from the heat set aside with the lid still on for 5-10 minutes, then stir through olive oil and salt.
  3. Asparagus: Chop off the woody ends, then steam in 1/2 c boiling water with the lid on for 3-4 minutes. Remove, drain, and place into a bowl of cold water with a handful of ice to stop the cooking processing immediately (and keep them bright green). Drain and toss in the olive oil and sea salt.
  4. Dressing: Meanwhile, blend all dressing ingredients except oils and herbs in a blender until smooth. Then, while the blender is on low, slowly add the oils until well emulsified and combined. Finally add fresh herbs and blend on low until finely chopped and mixed through.
  5. Salad: Wash lettuce and spin dry, tear into rough pieces and place in large bowl. Lightly mix through 3 tbsp of dressing. Sprinkle on top quinoa, micro greens, finely sliced radishes, pomegranate seeds, activated hazelnuts, avocado and asparagus, and drizzle on top a further 3 tbsp of dressing, with extra on the side.
Notes
  • Make it nut free - simply use sunflower seeds or watermelon seeds instead of hazelnuts.
  • Make it paleo/keto - omit the quinoa and double the amount of hazelnuts and avocado you use.
  • This salad makes a nice big bowl to take to a lunch, serving 4-6 as a side, or 2 as a main meal. As a main meal, it provides enough for around 1/2-2/3 of quinoa each, along with 1/4 of an avocado, the hazelnuts and pomegranate - so makes for a light but delicious meal.
  • If you choose to soak your quinoa overnight, halve the cooking water to 1/2 c, and reduce your cooking time to around 12 minutes. Be sure to add the olive oil and salt - it makes all the difference to your end flavour!
  • The asparagus you could also sub for snow peas or green beans.
  • For the dressing, I’ve used a 50:50 blend of olive oil (for flavour) and chia seed oil (for omega 3’s). Alternative omega 3 oils you can use are sacha inchi oil (here), flax oil (here), or hemp seed oil, but these all have much stronger flavours than chia seed oil (which is why it is my preference). Otherwise, just use 100% olive oil.
  • For the fresh herbs in the dressing, use a mix of whatever you have available - we had basil, thyme, oregano and parsley in our garden so that’s what I used today. Chives would be great, as would a dash of rosemary. I probably wouldn’t do coriander/cilantro here.
  • This dressing is only very modestly sweet - if you prefer things sweeter, add an extra tablespoon of sweetener (but try it like this first to see if you’re into it!).
  • To get the seeds out of a pomegranate, slice it in half, hold it in your palm cut side down, then bang it with a wooden spoon over the salad (see the photo above). Any small pieces of pith that come out will be captured in your hand (remove them every few taps then go again til all seeds are removed).
  • If you can’t find pomegranate near you, you can sub them for 1 c of strawberries, raspberries or blackberries, to still give it that summery fruity feel.
  • I’ve used pre-activated hazelnuts, which i activated as per the instructions in this blog post here. If you haven’t made activated hazelnuts, simply toast them in a small pan on low for 5-10 minutes.
  • This salad is sooo delicious! The pictures don’t even do it justice. Such a glorious combo of flavour and textures - sweet, salty, crunchy, tangy. Just do it.
    This salad is everything you love about summer – sweet pomegranate, fresh asparagus, creamy avo, crunchy hazelnuts, fluffy quinoa, all doused in the world’s best balsamic vinaigrette. Vegan, gluten + dairy free.

    Click below to pin!

    This salad is everything you love about summer – sweet pomegranate, fresh asparagus, creamy avo, crunchy hazelnuts, fluffy quinoa, all doused in the world’s best balsamic vinaigrette. Vegan, gluten + dairy free.



    Buffy Ellen
    Buffy Ellen

    Author

    Buffy is the founder of Be Good Organics, and loves creating delicious yet simple plant-based whole foods recipes. Buffy also oversees our Be Good Organics online store, full of plant based goodies that she personally uses and loves. Sign up for our newsletter below to be the first to receive her weekly recipes.




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