This is such a great main course salad. I eat a lot of grain based salads, like farro, brown rice, and millet, some of which I've shared here with you before. I especially enjoy them in the summer when the weather is warm and I want something light for dinner that can be made ahead and served chilled. Quinoa is the perfect grain for a main course salad as it's a complete protein so it's filling and very healthy. I like mixing red and white quinoa here. It makes the salad prettier and gives it an extra nutty quality. I find the texture slightly different between red and white varieties so it just makes the dish that much more interesting.
This salad is tossed with a light lemon and olive oil dressing and, in addition to the nectarines, has arugula and toasted pistachios. I hope you'll make this for dinner tonight or set it out at your next bbq as a great alternative for your vegetarian guests. I promise that everyone will love it!
Quinoa Salad with Nectarines & Pistachios:
Yields about 10 cups
1 cup white quinoa
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
2 cups water
2/3 cup pistachios, toasted
3-4 medium nectarines, cut into 1" dice (about 3/4 #)
3 ounces arugula, torn into bite size pieces (about 4 cups)
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 TB)
4 TB extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1) In a 4 qt saucepan, add both colors of quinoa, vegetable stock, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 12-15 minutes until quinoa is just cooked and has absorbed most of the liquid. Set aside on the stove to cool, uncovered, for another 15 minutes or so.
2) Meanwhile, in your serving bowl mix the dressing. Whisk together the lemon juice and salt & pepper. While whisking, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream to emulsify. Toss in the arugula. The lemon juice will break down the greens some so they will blend better with the rest of the salad.
3) When the quinoa has cooled, fluff with a fork (like you would couscous), and then toss into the greens and dressing. The residual heat from the grains will also help to wilt the arugula. After the grains have been coated with dressing, toss in the pistachios (reserving a few for the top) and the nectarines. Serve at room temperature, or chilled. Drizzle top with a bit more olive oil, sprinkle with finishing salt, and the reserved pistachios.