Nutty quinoa, meaty shiitake mushrooms, caramelized fennel and crunchy toasted cashews. Sound good? These flavors come together in perfect harmony in this salad, which can be dinner tonight in less than an hour.
Quinoa salad with shiitakes, fennel and cashews
Total time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: This recipe calls for a wok. Quinoa is generally available at health food stores as well as at well-stocked supermarkets, including Whole Foods stores.
2 cups quinoa
1 quart water
1/4 cup peanut oil
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups thinly sliced fennel (about 1 large bulb)
2 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 cup sliced green onions, both white and green parts (about 1 small bunch)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup toasted, salted cashews
4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1. Rinse the quinoa under cool running water, then drain well with a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth-lined strainer (the grains are very small and will slip through a coarse strainer). Heat a wok over medium-high heat and toast the quinoa, shaking the pan frequently, just until the grains dry, are just beginning to color and have a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes. Set aside in a bowl.
2. In a medium, lidded pot, bring 1 quart of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the quinoa with a pinch of salt, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, 12 to 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat the wok again over high heat. Add the peanut oil and heat until it just begins to simmer. Stir in the garlic and fry, stirring constantly, just until the garlic is golden, about 30 seconds (the garlic can burn quickly). Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon, keeping the oil in the pan, and set aside.
4. Add the fennel to the oil and fry, stirring or tossing frequently, until it is caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oil and set aside. Add the shiitakes to the oil and stir-fry until caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir the green onions in with the mushrooms and continue to stir-fry just until the green onions begin to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and vinegar to the mixture and stir or toss to combine, then remove from heat.
5. In a large bowl, gently toss the quinoa with the warm shiitake-green onion mixture, the fennel, garlic, cashews, parsley, cilantro, lime zest and juice. Season to taste with additional salt if desired and serve immediately.
Each of 6 servings: 497 calories; 17 grams protein; 65 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams fiber; 18 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 273 mg. sodium.