Quinoa Salad (w/ wine pairings)

Summer Quinoa Salad

The other day one of our readers asked for a chilled quinoa salad recipe… Well Jen, ask and ye shall receive (and don’t worry, I jotted down a note about the Jasmine and Basmati rice too… lol)! I made this the other night and it came out absolutely delicious. Have it as a side, or as the main dish. It’s flavorful and satisfying, but light and healthy. The vegan and gluten free aspects were not intentional, but I’ll consider that an added bonus since many readers have also been asking for vegan and gluten free recipes as well. Win-win! Oh yeah, and it’s super easy to make… Enjoy!

This should be prepared three hours prior to serving to allow ample time to cool, assuming you want it chilled. It can also be served warm if desired.

Serves 3-4 as an entrée, or 8-12 as a side.

Ingredients (salad):
1 1/2c Quinoa
4c Vegetable Stock (preferably low sodium)
2tsp Salt (if you found low sodium stock, otherwise start with 1tsp and add more to if needed)
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp Garlic Powder
1tsp Yellow Curry Powder
1 Yellow Squash, diced
1 Zucchini, diced
1/2 Medium Eggplant (or one small eggplant), diced
1/3lb Green Beans, blanched & diced
4 Plum Tomatoes, diced
2tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Ingredients (to drizzle over the top when serving):
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Alrighty, let’s get started! Put the quinoa, salt, pepper, garlic powder, curry powder and vegetable stock in a large sauce pot (remember, you’ll be adding more ingredients in a bit so you’ll need the room to stir), cover and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil uncover the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes the stock should be mostly gone and you should see white halos developed on the quinoa. At this point add the two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, squash, zucchini and eggplant to the quinoa. Reduce the heat to low, put the cover back on, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the 10 minutes is up put the pot in the fridge to cool.

Okee dokee, so the next step is to blanch the green beans. Cut the tips off if they’re not already cleaned. Set up a large bowl with water and ice. Get water boiling in a medium pot and drop in the beans. Cook the beans in the boiling water for one minute, then drain them out and immediately submerge them in the ice bath. The point of this is to quickly stop the cooking process to keep the beans crisp, vibrant and fresh. Once they’re chilled pat them dry with a towel, dice them, then toss them with a pinch of salt and pepper and put them in the fridge. You’ll be adding them at the end, just before serving.

As I stated above, you’ll want at least three hours to really let this cool down. When you’re ready to serve just stir in the diced green beans and tomatoes, drizzle it with a little extra virgin olive oil and some fresh lemon juice, and you’re all set! Simple and delicious, can’t ask for more.

Ok, so let’s talk vino. If you’re using this as a side dish, then that could flip the switch a bit because your protein will likely dictate the ideal wine… So I’m just going to give you pairings that work well with the salad by itself. You don’t want anything too big with this, but at the same time you don’t necessarily want anything too light and crisp either. The salad has a beautiful earthiness to it from the vegetables, as well as an inherent earthiness from the quinoa itself, and that should be the main basis for the pairing. Listed below are my thoughts…

Filippi Castelcerino Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy – Normally I’m not the biggest fan of Soave’s. They’re typically very aromatic and are very fat in the mouth with overt honeyed notes and little-to-no balancing minerality or acidity. The Soave’s of Filippo Filippi (yes, that’s his real name), however, are anything but typical. Filippi’s estate and vineyards are located in Castelcerino, which is the highest elevation region in the Soave DOC. The family has been making wine from these estates since the early 1900’s, but it wasn’t until 2003 that they started bottling under their own name. On the nose the Classico is very typical Soave, being super aromatic, but the palate is a completely different story. The wine is medium bodied, and while there are honeyed notes evident, there are also beautiful hints of grapefruit pith, white peach and lemon zest, framed by crunchy minerality and subtle acidity. This is easily the most complex, yet well balanced, Soave I’ve ever had, and at the price it’s an absolute steal. PP Score: 90 (Retail $13-16) *Certified Organic

Michel Guigner Beaujolais, Beaujolais, France – Michel Guignier is a fourth generation vigneron from the Morgon AOC, within Beaujolais. For years Beaujolais has been associated with inexpensive, uninteresting juice, but Michel, along with a number of others, are striving to prove that not only can Beaujolais be complex, ageable and delicious, but that it can stand toe-t0-toe with it’s Burgundian brethren to the north! This is Michel’s entry level bottling, a predominance of which is declassified juice from his vineyards in Morgon. The nose and palate are mirror images, with distinct notes of tart cherry, macerated cranberry, pantry spice, black pepper and earth, balanced by subdued acidity and soft tannins. Hands down this is one of the better Bojo’s on the market at this price, but with only 550 cases produced each year it isn’t necessarily the easiest wine to find. PP Score: 89 (Retail: $12-15) *Certified Organic

Domaine du Bel Air Bourgueil “Jour de Soif”, Loire, France – This wine will forever hold a special place in my heart, as it’s the first Cabernet Franc that I ever truly enjoyed. Not to mention that its title, “Jour de Soif” translates to “drink the day”, which is essentially my favorite past time! Domaine du Bel Air is owned by the Gauthier family who have been producing wines from their 18 hectare estate for generations, but didn’t start bottling to sell until 1979. This is their entry cuvee, 100% Cabernet Franc from their youngest vines, approximately 20 years of age, aged in stainless steel to allow the fruit to shine and give it a refreshing brightness. On the palate you find notes of dark cherry, slightly tart raspberry, dried thyme and a hint of bell pepper. The wine is medium bodied but is a surprisingly light on it’s feet with a beautiful acidic lift and subtle chewy tannins adding depth and character. PP Score: 89 (Retail $13-16) *Certified Organic

So there you have it, my quinoa salad recipe as well as some gorgeous, yet moderately inexpensive, wines to pair with it. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read and that you’ll try the recipe and the wines. As always new content is coming soon. In the meantime crack open a bottle of Beaujolais (that is NOT Jadot or Duboeuf!!!), sit back, and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!


Published by Derek Martin

Husband, dad, home cook, wine snob... lover of bacon. I have spent my entire adult life surrounded by fine food and fine wines, starting with fifteen years working at, or running, some of New Jersey's top restaurants, and now the last two years working for one of the top fine wine distributors in the United States. I have absorbed a ton of information on food, wine, pairings and techniques during those seventeen years, and I'd love to share what I've learned with you!

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