I think I’ve lost count with how many salads we’ve made this year. I know it’s a lot. I suppose I could always take a look in the Salads category on this blog to find out. I’ll tell you this – I’ve made a lot of really good ones. If I had to guess, I’d say my favorites so far were:
I really like those orzo salads. You can pack a lot of flavor in them. This recipe (the one I’m writing right now) was good as well though, so we’ll have to put it near the top.
Today’s recipe is one that Laura scouted out and found online. The website she got it from is called Cafe Johnsonia and it can be found here. It’s a really well thought out recipe and has got a lot of interesting ingredients in it. What struck me right off the bat was how the asparagus was cut so small and was kept raw. Second was the use of oranges, which I’ve been taking advantage of a lot anyway and third was the really great tasting vinaigrette.
As I move through the salad recipes, I’m finding a fairly consistent pattern. In the most basic sense, there’s some sort of a protein or carbohydrate, such as quinoa, rice, orzo or something like that. Then, there’s a firm vegetable, such as asparagus, beets or snap peas. Perhaps there’s something sweet like oranges, apples or blueberries and finally, there’s the vinaigrette. While the salad ingredients themselves are oftentimes very tasty, it’s generally the vinaigrette that sets them apart from everything else. If you were to go to a restaurant and eat a memorable salad like this, it would most likely be the vinaigrette or sauce you remember most.
Today’s salad is great. While it includes the combination I just mentioned above, it’s also got a sweet, yet tangy vinaigrette. With the use of 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of miso, it packs a punch.
For the Salad
1 Pound Fresh Asparagus
3 Cups Cooked Quinoa
2 Medium Sized Oranges, Peeled, Segments Separated and Cut in Half
1 Large Avocado, Sliced Thinly
2 Teaspoons Zest From the Oranges
1/2 Cup Pecans, Toasted
For the Vinaigrette
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons Avocado Oil
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 Tablespoon Light Miso
1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup or Honey
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic, Minced
If you take a look at the website I linked to above, you’ll notice that I substituted some ingredients. We had a few similar ingredients on hand and I wanted to use them up. So, if you’re interested, please feel free to use blood oranges and almonds. Also, perhaps you enjoy the flavor of extra-virgin olive oil. If so, use that instead of the avocado oil. Use real ginger instead of the ground version and the maple syrup instead of the honey. There are many variations to this recipe, which is one of the reasons I was so attracted to it.
Prepare the Vinaigrette
In a medium sized bowl, add the lime juice, avocado oil, ginger, miso, honey and garlic. Whisk together well and set aside for later use.
Prep the Salad Ingredients
Trim the ends from the asparagus. Then, slice each stalk into 1/4 inch pieces and place in a medium sized bowl.
Cook the Quinoa
To prepare the quinoa, follow the instructions on the packaging of the product you purchased. In general, you use 2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa. Boil the water over high heat in a medium sized saucepan, add the quinoa, lower the heat to medium low, cover the pot and let simmer for 15 minutes. That’s what I did for this recipe and that should get you where you need to be.
When finished with this step, remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside.
Prep the Oranges
Peel the oranges. Then, separate each piece from one another. After that, cut each piece in half and place in a medium sized bowl. If you have the time and patience, you can actually remove the insides of each piece from the outer membrane. This is what you might want to do if you have guests over or something like that. For us, it was a casual night, so we left the membranes in tact.
Toast the Pecans
Warm a small skillet over medium heat. When it’s to temperature, add the pecans. Keep tossing them for a few minutes until you begin to smell them and they begin to brown. When that happens, remove the pan from the heat.
In a large bowl, add the quinoa, asparagus, orange pieces and half the vinaigrette. Toss until everything is combined well.
Plate & Add Remaining Ingredients
Divide the ingredients in the large bowl between your serving bowls. Then, place a few slices of avocado on top of each serving and sprinkle some pecans on top of that. Finally, add some orange zest to each and then divide the remaining vinaigrette between the bowls and serve.
The Final Salad
I must say, this is a very attractive salad. I’d be proud to serve this to anyone. I’d also expect some compliments for all my hard work. Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!