Green Goddess Quinoa Salad, with Dandelions!

Outside of some very good restaurants, I didn’t get to do much “food tourism” while I was in Colorado. Farmer’s markets don’t open until May and I saw very little local food of any kind while I was there outside of beer and wine. Then as we were heading to the Walsenburg bus station for me to start my long trek home to Florida, we stopped in a little natural foods store looking for coconut water. Lo and behold, I saw something I did not know existed- Colorado-grown quinoa!

Well, I had to buy some. And the Colorado-native herbal tea. And the Colorado-made lip balm. And I even got my coconut water!

Quinoa is a relatively new food to me. I have only cooked it once before, many years ago, when it was new on the market. It was dark red, I made some kind of stew with it, and no one liked it. Not even me! So I never cooked it again. The opportunity to try quinoa grown in Colorado was too much temptation, though. So I browsed quinoa recipes for a week, bookmarking the ones that sounded good, and ended up combining several recipes with local ingredients and my usual “tweaking”.

 

One of the local ingredients I used in this recipe is dandelion greens. I am a total sucker for the French garden variety dandelion greens. The red stems, the dark green serrated leaves… so beautiful. I just cannot resist their aggressive bitterness. So far I’ve only eaten them stir-fried quickly with bacon and plenty of pepper.

In a salad they are still aggressively bitter, but the richness and saltiness of the dressing and the avocado really balances them out. I just cannot stop eating this salad. Use the dandelion greens sparingly if you’re not sure about intensely bitter greens, or you can even blanch them for a few seconds in boiling water to tame the sharpness a bit.

Green Goddess Quinoa Salad with Dandelion Greens

Mostly based on this recipe that came out much more photogenic than mine and is possibly as delicious.

2 c quinoa
3 c rich homemade chicken broth
1 tsp. salt
small handful of dandelion greens, finely sliced
large handful of parsley, chopped
2 cucumbers, diced
1 small yellow sweet pepper, diced
1 avocado, diced
1/2 recipe Anchovy Herb Vinaigrette

Put the quinoa in a pan with a tight-fitting lid. Cover with cold water and swish with your hands, then drain and repeat, 3-4 times until the water runs fairly clear. Drain off most of the water. Add the chicken broth and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, turn down to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Then without opening the lid, turn the heat off and leave for another 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

When the quinoa has cooled to room temperature, measure two cups of cooked quinoa into a mixing bowl. Add the dandelion greens through avocado and toss. Then start with 3 tablespoons of dressing, toss gently, and add more if it looks dry. The quinoa will soak up a lot of flavor, so use the dressing liberally. Then cover and chill the salad for at least a few hours to let the flavors “get happy”, and then taste for salt before serving.

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