This is the type of dish I cook for myself often. It normally involves vegetables, nuts, sometimes mushrooms, green leaves and dry fruits. All mixed with some sort of grain or pasta that pulls it all together, on this case, quinoa. I didn't use any leaves here but I named it salad because I really didn't have a better word for it. This dish can be a main meal (for me it normally is) or a side. It tastes great warm or at room temperature, which means it can be made in advance. It's a great healthy lunch box option.
I used dried sliced shitake mushrooms here because they cook quicker than whole ones, but that would be fine too, and of course you can always substitute fresh ones. I always have dried shitake in my pantry so I can add them to soups, salads, pastas and rice dishes. Remember to save the water that you soak the mushrooms in to add to the quinoa cooking liquid. I chose to grill the asparagus, but roasting works just as well.
Quinoa, Asparagus and Shitake Salad Recipe:
serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish
You will need:
2/3 cups of uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup dried sliced shitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon of dried cranberries
1/3 cup of hazelnuts
10 asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed
1 lemon - zest and juice
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Soak the mushrooms in 2/3 cup of very hot water for about 10 minutes. Place mushrooms with it's liquid, quinoa and 2/3 cups of water in a medium pan and bring it to a boil. Add the cranberries, reduce heat and cook with a lid on until quinoa is cooked and the liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes. Transfer it to a bowl and set aside.
Roast the hazelnuts in a medium oven (350) for about 10 minutes. Remove most of the skins by rubbing the nuts in a piece of kitchen towel. Roughly chop it and add to the quinoa bowl.
While quinoa is cooking, season asparagus with salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Grill them until they have charred marks, but are still firm and crunchy, about 5 minutes. Cut asparagus into bite size pieces and add to the quinoa bowl.
Make a simple lemon dressing with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Add lemon zest to quinoa bowl, pour lemon dressing over it and stir. Serve it warm or at room temperature.