A Sarcastic Appetite


Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, Goat Cheese & Chicken
January 3, 2011, 10:19 pm
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There are rumblings afoot in Apartment 21B: rumblings of a new diet in the near future. One is supposed to eliminate sugar, dairy, meat, grains and who knows what else in order to remove the yeast from one’s system, yeast which we all have and is apparently responsible for every single ailment you have ever suffered in your life – and probably global warming, too.

Oh. Did you think I was going on this diet? No, no, no! I’m doing no such thing. The Ninja is! Or claims he is, anyway, and I’m terrified for the repercussions. We all know I get cranky when I don’t eat – but it’s genetic! He’s going to turn into some kind of Locally Sourced, Greenmarket Mr. Hyde for the next four weeks (four weeks!) and it’s not going to be pretty. It’s unclear to me what one can actually eat on this diet, but according to the Ninja I am a lowly, unimaginative peon who doesn’t deserve to know what happens on The Diet since I am uninterested in Eliminating Yeast and Solving the World’s Problems.

I guess I’m selling myself a bit short here. To be honest, I am interested in the idea of a cleanse – as long as it makes room for pinot grigio. If you have any suggestions, please pass them along. In the meantime, I’ll make more stuff like this quinoa salad, which is healthier than, say, my Roast Chicken, but sports enough olive oil and goat cheese so I don’t feel like I’m, ahem, denying myself anything.

Quinoa has many fans these days, and I can see why: Wikipedia tells me it contains amino acids, phosphorous, fiber, magnesium, iron – and is gluten free for those of us who care. Just remember to soak your quinoa for fifteen minutes in water to remove any trace of bitterness. (Most quinoa sold in stores has its bitter, waxy outer coating removed, but there are still traces of bitterness that remain, so soak it to be sure.) The rest of this is pretty straightforward: some roasted asparagus, toasted sliced almonds, a handful or two of spinach, diced chicken and a fair amount of goat cheese get dressed with a classic vinaigrette. And there’s plenty for lunch tomorrow – for those of us who will not be participating in The Diet, of course.

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, Goat Cheese, & Chicken

Adapted from The Kitchen Sink Recipes. Serves 4ish.

1 c. quinoa

Water for soaking, plus 2 c. for cooking

1/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

lots of freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

3 tbsp. + 1/4 c. olive oil

3 tbsp. grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1 whole peeled garlic clove

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 c. sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 c. goat cheese

1 6 oz. chicken breast, diced

2 handfuls of spinach

Preheat the oven to 350.° Soak the quinoa in a bowl of water for 15 minutes. (If you don’t have time for this, just pour hot water over it.) Drain, then add to a medium pot with the 2 c. water and 1/4 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. Set it aside, still covered.

Spread the asparagus in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the 3 tbsp. olive oil; season with salt and pepper, then add the 3 tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano. Throw the garlic clove on top and roast for about 10 minutes, until just fork tender. Set aside. Pull the garlic off and mince it.

In a large salad bowl, combine the minced garlic, Dijon, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and whisk until combined. Keep whisking as you drizzle in the 1/4 c. of olive oil; taste, and correct seasoning. Add the cooked quinoa, asparagus, toasted almonds, spinach and chicken; toss well. Add the goat cheese and toss again; the heat from the quinoa and the asparagus should wilt the spinach slightly and melt the cheese.

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