The inspiration for this dish came from Heidi Swanson, the author of Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen , and the great food blog 101 Cookbooks. Heidi has a dish on her site that is a wheat berry version of this to which she adds tofu or seitan. Due to my wife’s gluten intolerance, I decided to whip up a quinoa version of this salad, and because I generally loathe tofu and seitan, I left it out.
This is a delicious and versatile side salad, but could certainly be made into a whole meal with the addition of some protein. If soy products are your thing, toss some in, if not, poached and cubed chicken or shrimp would be terrific. The real star of the dish is the arugula pesto as it brings most of the flavor to the party. Don’t like the bite of arugula, make a basil pesto instead. The quinoa was wonderful, but I’ve made Heidi’s wheat berry version also (with chicken) and loved it. Next time I may try making it with farro.
One cup of quinoa made enough to serve eight as a side dish, or four as a full meal, and it holds terrifically in the fridge so don’t worry if you think its too much, it’ll make for great left-overs. Any number of grilled veggies would feel right at home in this dish, as would some sweet cherry tomatoes. Top with some crumbled feta or shaved ricotta salata for a real treat.
Cheers – Steve
Quinoa and Arugula Pesto Salad
- 1 cup quinoa
- 4 cups, lightly packed arugula leaves
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted and divided
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup EVOO
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped kalamata olives
- kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper to taste
- Bring the quinoa, water and salt to a boil in a large thick-bottomed pot. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa opens up revealing its little "pig tail" spiral. Dump the quinoa into a fine mesh strainer to drain off any excess liquid and set aside to cool.
- In the meantime, make the arugula pesto by combining the garlic, 1/2 of the pine nuts, 3 cups of the arugula, the parmesan, salt, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse a few times, and then with the blade running, drizzle the olive oil into the mixture until the pesto is smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed with more salt or lemon juice.
- Pour the quinoa into a mixing bowl and add the pesto, chopped kalamatas, and the last 1 cup of arugula. Toss until everything is well-coated. Taste once more for seasoning, then arrange on a platter and top with the remaining pine nuts, and a bit of shaved Parmesan.