Quinoa Salad

I finally got around to buying a big bag of quinoa from the bulk bins. I've had quinoa before, and I know how healthy it is, but I just never really think of it. Quinoa is technically a seed from a bush, but you treat it like a grain when you're cooking with it, and it's like a little vegan nutritional messiah. I looked at the directions on the bulk bin and it was the same as what you'd do with rice on the stove top, so I had the bright idea to use my rice cooker. It was a little unnerving, actually, because I love my rice cooker and I'd be really sad if anything happened to it. Some people do all manner of crazy things with theirs, but mine so far has been used exclusively for rice. It turned out really good, though, and the whole house had that toasted sesame seed smell.

After I cooked up a big batch, I started looking for things to do with it. Vegan with a Vengeance has a couple of recipes, but they're both kind of warm and heavy sounding and I just wasn't in the mood. I thought about doing the pineapple quinoa stir fry from Veganomicon but I really wanted to do something with ingredients I had on hand. As I often do, I searched food network, thinking I'd find something I could modify. What I found was a lovely Emeril recipe that, while I did modify it, is vegan to begin with. Looking at it again, I really didn't modify it all that significantly. I used three clementines instead of the supremed oranges (I hadn't ever heard the term supreme used in this way before, but I intend to use it liberally henceforth), and I also omitted the olives and reduced the olive oil to 1/4 cup (really, it was plenty, and I probably could have used even less). I probably used more parsley than it calls for, because I love fresh parsley and I didn't measure it. The omission of the olives was a measured choice: I only had Spanish olives and they seemed too savory for the rest of the salad. I opted to add a little more salt, instead.

The salad turned out fantastic. The onions added a little kick and the clementines and golden raisins were like little sweet nuggets of yummy. The quinoa and cumin both have a wonderful nutty flavor. I'm totally making this again for a summer picnic or something.

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