Monday, January 13, 2014

Salmon & Quinoa Salad

I'll be the first to admit it: I'm usually the last person on board with food trends.  Quinoa is no exception.

After a particularly indulgent weekend, I found myself actually craving something light and healthy on Sunday night.  Now, you can probably tell from reading this blog, but that is actually quite rare for me.  My cravings are typically equally distributed between complex carbohydrates and red meat.  Anyway, I won't get into the dirty details (Ruth's Chris onion rings and a ginormous order of Pizzetta's spaghetti and meatballs were involved), but by Sunday I was jonesing for some greenery.

Now back to Quinoa.  I don't know why I resisted it for so long - I mean, it's like sooo hot right now.  And people describe it with fancy phrases like "antioxidant powerhouse" and "nutrient rich." I decided my first quinoa adventure would be an attempted reproduction of my favorite Salmon & Quinoa salad at Printwork's Bistro in Greensboro.

If you're new to Quinoa, or, like me, trying to convince you're significant other that it's delicious, adding it to a salad is a great way to ease into the quinoa-hype.  In this recipe, the quinoa just adds a light coating and unique texture to the lettuce, without being overwhelmingly grain-y (though really it's a cereal.. ).  Add some crispy sweet potatoes and you have a wonderful flavor combo and a simple dinner you can feel good about.

Ingredients (serves 2): 
* 2 salmon filets
* 1 sweet potato, diced
* mixed greens
* 1/4 c. quinoa
* 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided 
* Salt, Pepper
Mustard Vinaigrette:
* 1 tsp. dijon mustard
* 1 tsp. whole grain mustard
* 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
* 1/2 c. olive oil
* Salt, Pepper

Preheat oven to 425.  Add the diced sweet potatoes to a small casserole dish and coat with 1 tbsp. oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for 40 minutes, stirring once about halfway through; set aside. 

Increase the oven temperature to 450.  Prepare the quinoa according the package directions.  Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette.  Combine mustards, white wine, salt and pepper in a bowl. While whisking the mustard mixture, slowly pour in the olive oil and continue to whisk until the dressing is well combined.  

Preheat an ovenproof saute pan to medium high heat.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and season the flesh side of the fish with salt and pepper.  Add the fish, skin side up, to the pan.  Sear the flesh side of the fish, then flip it, spoon 1 tbsp. of vinaigrette over each filet, and place the pan in the oven for 3 minutes for medium rare (I prefer my salmon slightly well done, so I bake it for 5 minutes).  

To prepare the salad, toss salad greens with quinoa and a few tablespoons of dressing (you just want a light coating).  Add the salad to a bowl and top with crispy sweet potatoes and salmon.  Enjoy! 

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