Now that it’s spring, I’m weaning myself off of the soups and stews that kept me going all winter. This salad is a perfect match for the transition in seasons. In an homage to all the plants outdoors whose greenery is currently in full swing, this salad is full of green, with asparagus, spring greens, mint, and chives. Quinoa, toasted for maximum nutty flavor, keeps it filling while pomegranate molasses and fresh lime zest and juice add a little tartness and a little sweetness. I love food with a variety of textures, and this salad manages just that – chewy quinoa, crisp-tender asparagus, and crunchy walnuts. This can be served with the quinoa and asparagus still hot or with the whole salad at room temperature or even cold (great for those spring days when the temperature unexpectedly spikes to summer levels) which means it could just as easily be packed for a quick picnic as it could be served as a sophisticated appetizer at a dinner party. Versatile, tasty, and healthy, there’s not really much more I could want this time of year.
Pomegranate Asparagus Quinoa Salad (adapted from Tastespace)
Yield: 8 appetizers or 4 entrees
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove + 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp + 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
- zest of 1 lime
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 lb spring greens
- 2 Tbsp chopped chives
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, toast 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Add 2 cups vegetable broth, and bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover, and let simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all of the broth, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, position an oven rack about 8 inches away from the broiler element and heat the broiler to high.
- Toss 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, then spread in a single layer on a broiling pan.
- Broil (keeping the oven door propped slightly open) until the asparagus can be easily pierced with a fork, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses, 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 clove garlic, minced, zest of 1 lime, juice of 1 lime, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes to make the dressing.
- When the quinoa is done, remove from heat, and fluff with a fork, then stir in the broiled asparagus, and pour the dressing over it. Stir together until thoroughly combined, then taste, and add more salt and pepper (or any of the other dressing ingredients), if needed.
- To serve, fill a bowl with 1/4 lb spring greens, then top with the asparagus quinoa, and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp chopped chives and 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped, and drizzle with a little extra pomegranate molasses or sprinkle on pomegranate arils, if desired. If the asparagus quinoa is stored separately from the greens, chives, and walnuts, the leftovers can be heated before mixing and serving; otherwise, leftovers of this salad are also very good cold or at room temperature.