Spring is when things start to get really good at the Santa Cruz County Farmers Markets. Sure, potato leek soup and winter squash were delicious, but as more and more vegetables hit the stands, our culinary horizons get a refreshing stretch, often towards the lighter side of things.
A recent 75-degree day inspired a salad experimentation with two very powerful superfoods: microgreens and quinoa.
For those who recoil at the word "quinoa," I implore you to give it a chance. Quinoa is fail proof. To cook it all you do is add one part quinoa, two parts water, bring to a boil, and then simmer until all of the water is absorbed. It's a complete protein, and is especially high in the amino acid lysine, essential for tissue growth and healing. It has a nutty flavor and firm texture.
I've tried adding everything to quinoa, from chickpeas and feta cheese (not so good) to roasted sweet potatoes and toasted walnuts. Until one day I tossed an entire bag of into a bowl of quinoa and the rest was history. Tossed with a light ginger sesame dressing, this salad makes a delicious meal or a side to fish or chicken.
New Natives sells a wide variety of bagged microgreens, from broccoli sprouts to sunflower sprouts. For mixing with quinoa, I recommend using the smallest microgreens they have available, for texture purposes. I use their "Salad Mix," which includes the Japanese greens frokohlrabi, tatsoi, and mizuna, as well as arugula and red cabbage sprouts. There is something about the mustard-like spice of the microgreens that melds very well with the quinoa.
Microgreens and Quinoa Salad:
1 cup quinoa (red, white, or mixed. You can find it at , or local health food stores)
2 cups water (substitute one cup of chicken broth for extra flavor)
finely chopped white onion, about a quarter cup.
one bag of New Natives microgreens
toasted almonds (as many as you would like)
(I also sometimes add peas. Throw in whatever you would like!)
Sesame Ginger Salad dressing to taste (I cheat and use Japanese Ginger salad dressing from Kracy for Kazus, but you could make your own too.)
Bring 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and simmer until all of the water has been absorbed and the quinoa looks translucent. Note: Don't let the quinoa burn! Allow to cool, and toss in the other ingredients. Serve cold or at room temperature.