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Super Duper Food - Quinoa Salad

Even though his dish didn't win the regional Almost Famous Chef competition last week, it was my favourite. Kellie Callender's Slow Roasted Salmon with Quinoa Salad is totally my jam. Don't get wrong- all of the other dishes were great but this was something I could see myself eating at home all time. Salmon is our "Shack is away working out of town" fish so I skipped that part for now but I didn't let that stop me from trying the salad because, luckily, he doesn't care for salmon but he really likes quinoa.

We took The Kid and his friend out for a pierogi and schnitzel lunch so I thought that we should try to eat a nice, light dinner. Oh, I also went out to eat the previous night with a group from Gastropost and I ate and drank my weight in red wine and Italian food so I was really not wanting to eat anything heavy after all that. A nice quinoa salad sounded like just the ticket to end an indulgent weekend.

Anyway, I really love this salad and I actually made my first version of it the week before. This time I made some changes because it makes a really big batch and would have to last a couple of days in the fridge. The last I wanted was to have the apple going brown on me so I left it out and although I kind of wanted to add fennel, I didn't have any. What I DID have was leftover, braised kale which ended up being perfect in there. Adding a super food to a super food automatically turns it into super duper food. You could eat nothing but this for the rest of your life and live to be one hundred and ten. Those are tech terms and pure science so you can take that to the bank.

I have done it with lemon as well as the vinegar but I think I like the white balsamic a bit better and the walnut oil adds a nice nuttiness to it that really brings out the flavour of the cheese. Tonight we ate it over a bed of baby arugula with some sliced avocado and it was surprisingly filling and even Shack didn't seem to miss the slab of roast beast that wasn't on his plate.

Quinoa Salad

adapted from the AFC13 contestant Kellie Callender in his Salmon With Quinoa Salad

1 large beet or a couple small beets, roasted (you can precook it however you like)
1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed, cooked and cooled
1 small yellow tomato, chopped
2 cups chopped, cooked kale 1/3 cup grated parmesan or grano padano
3 tbls white balsamic vinegar
1 tbls honey
1 tbls walnut oil
2 tbls safflower oil (or any other flavourless oil, like canola or sunflower etc)
pinch salt and a few grinds of pepper

Cook the quinoa earlier in the day if you can so it's totally cooled to room temp or the day before and store it in the fridge. Cook it however you would cook rice - it's exactly the same. I use my rice cooker - 1 cup of dried quinoa + 1 1/2 cups water with a pinch of salt.
I like to roast my beets but you can cook them in the microwave or steam them. Once they are cooked, cool them and chop them into a small dice. I got about 2 cups of beets.
chop up the cooked, cooled kale.
I cooked mine the day before. Remove the leaves in chunks from the stem and discard the stems. Roughly chop the kale leaves before sauteeing it in a bit of olive oil with a clove of garlic til it starts to wilt. Add about 1/4 cup of water and cover the pan and continue to cook it over medium to medium low heat until the water is almost absorbed. Remove the lid, add a pinch of salt and stir around and check to see if it's cooked. If it is, take it off the heat and let it cool down to room temp. Set aside.
So, now we are ready to the make the salad. Put the cooked quinoa, beets, kale, tomato and cheese in a big bowl and stir it all together.
Whisk together the white balsamic, honey, oils and s&p in a smaller bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.

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