Vegan Quinoa Salad

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Happy Monday!  While y’all are trudging off to work, we’re in Michigan visiting our grandparents, being fed all-American food and watching the fall leaves change color.  Yeah, you’re jealous.  I’ll share more about our trip (and some yummy recipes!) later.

Today I’m featuring one of my favorite staple foods – quinoa!  Adam and I eat a lot of quinoa because it’s a great substitute for pasta and even sometimes meat (like quinoa black bean burgers, soooo good).  I love quinoa so much in fact that I have a Pinterest board dedicated solely to recipes involving this magical little grain.  I’m always on the lookout for new quinoa recipes that we can use now that we’re sort of vegetarians.  Yes, we’re only “sort of” because we refuse to give up sushi and sometimes when we’re really lazy we’ll eat meat, but we try to eat vegetarian as much as possible.  So when I tried this quinoa salad at a café near our apartment, I knew I needed to try to replicate it.  Thankfully I knew what ingredients they put in it, but I had no idea what amounts.  So I had to experiment a bit, but I think I figured it out because it is oh so good!

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Basically this quinoa salad is chock full of nutritious stuff, including kale, tomatoes, radishes, almonds and pumpkin seeds.  I didn’t know until recently that you could even eat pumpkin seeds.  All these years of carving jack-o-lanterns and I’ve just been throwing away little nutrient packed snacks every October!  Turns out, pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, zinc and healthy omega 3 fats.  They have a little bit of a salty, nutty flavor that we really like.  And in this salad they blend in really well with the slivered almonds, so they make a great addition of nutrients without changing the consistency of the salad!

The highlight of this dish, though, is the sauce you mix into the salad.  Made from mixing pesto and cashew cream, the sauce adds an extra depth of flavor to the salad, but is light enough that you don’t have that weighed-down feeling afterwards (like when you eat fettuccine alfredo or some other rich sauce).  If you’re unfamiliar with cashew cream, the simplified version (which I use) is you soak cashews in water for at least an hour and then blend them up!  The result is a nutty, creamy vegan sauce.  So go ahead and try this recipe and lemme know what you think!  Since nothing in it makes it too soggy, it’s a great recipe to make in large quantities and then have leftovers for meals the next day.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 3 small radishes, thinly sliced (remove and discard leaves)
  • Handful spinach or kale, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegan cashew cream
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Directions:

  • Cook 1 cup quinoa in a medium pot (don’t know how to cook quinoa? Check out this link!)
  • While quinoa is cooking, chop radishes and spinach up + set aside
  • After quinoa cools, combine quinoa with cashew cream and pesto in a serving bowl
  • Add remaining ingredients to quinoa mixture, give it a quick stir and serve!

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