Quick, tasty, nutrient-packed
Quick quinoa & pear salad is one of our favorite easy recipes that stands on its own as a healthy, oil free meal or small-effort side. You will love this combination of sweet pears with chives and Balsamic with flavorful quinoa and crunchy walnuts. It’s really perfect and it’s portable so you’ll never be without an on-the-go meal.
Why we love quinoa
Quinoa (KEEN-wah) has grown to be one of my absolute favorite grains. I totally get why it’s known at ‘the mother grain’ in South America where it’s been a staple for thousands of years.
Seriously, what’s not to love? If you compare 1 cup of quinoa to 1 cup of rice you are talking 40 fewer calories which isn’t all that much. But if you are considering carbs and want to avoid a spike in your blood sugar, that cup of white rice has 15 times (yes, 15 times) the carbohydrates as quinoa. If low carbs aren’t enough, you get 5 more grams of fiber in your cup of quinoa which also greatly impacts blood sugar and is your friend when it comes to weight loss.
And protein too
If you follow a plant-based diet, you have likely been asked: what about protein? Answer, quinoa baby. That cup of gluten free quinoa will score you 11 grams of protein. And seriously, if you eat plenty of veggies (especially green), beans, legumes and grains, you are getting plenty of protein. If you want something to ready while chowing on quick quinoa & pear salad, the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Studies has a fabulous (and readable) article about the history of protein. More, there’s always more learning – and eating.
How to make quinoa
Let’s start at the beginning. You want to give your quinoa a vigorous rinse. Quinoa protects itself with a natural coating known as saponin which can taste bitter, strong and soapy. Rinsing will get rids of all the off-the-shelf dust, allowing the nutty flavor of quinoa to emerge. All this means is that your first step is to dig out a colander with a small mesh (you’ll know why if you don’t and it’s running down the drain😊) and then rinse it under the faucet.
2:1 in 15
Another reason to love quinoa is that is cooks up in a jiff – like 15 minutes. This rivals that unhealthy quick cooking rice, so you’re already at win-win with your nutritionally-packed quinoa. The liquid to quinoa ratio is an easy 2:1. So add into your pan 2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa. Bring it to a rolling boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
1 cup dry quinoa = 3 cups cooked.
Although the flavor of quinoa stands on its own, you can help bring out the taste by simply adding a pinch of salt. No, this won’t help the water boil faster, but it will bring out the flavor. Quinoa will absorb flavorful liquid, so consider replacing water with veggie broth or use the Denise quick method and drop a vegetable bullion cube (or 2 depending on the amount) into the water. You can also add recipe-appropriate herbs (dry or fresh). Give it a play. It’s all good.
Let’s review steps and perfect this dance
2. Add 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water (liquid)
3. Bring to a boil
4. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer until tender (15 minutes)
5. Let your quinoa rest in the pan for a few minutes to allow it to fluff up (you should be doing the same with rice by the way).
Now what? Well quick quinoa & pear salad, of course
There are some fruits that just naturally scream Balsamic! Pears are one of those. Just dice pears and chop chives and walnuts while your quinoa is doing its thing on the stove. All you need to do is toss those three ingredients in balsamic and allow them to rest while the quinoa finishes. This allows the pears to absorb the balsamic which is quite tactical if you think about it. The acid of the balsamic vinegar will help to preserve the pears which means you have a beautiful, portable salad to bring a bit of lunch-envy to your workplace.
We are never too old or set in our ways to expand our horizons (she writes as another birthday rolls around). This doesn’t mean permanently shelving old favorites such as rice, but we can make room for something new. I fail as a trend follower and I avoid allowing ‘influences’ to practice their influence on me. My strongest ally in cleaning up my old eating habits has been an intentional shift to include foods that give me a bigger nutrition bang for my calorie buck. Quinoa fits that bill, but it doesn’t mean giving up rice. It’s about making a little more room, allowing more opportunity and creating easy, reliable and delicious recipes so I can move forward along my better path. Peace.Print
Quick quinoa & pear salad transforms 5 ingredients and 25 minutes into an easy, healthy, oil free, flavorful meal or small-effort side.
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth (you can add a veggie bullion cube to the water as well)
- Pinch of salt
- 2 fresh pears diced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
- Rinse the quinoa and place it in a saucepan with the water. Bring the pot to a boil, turn the heat to simmer, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed.
- Allow the quinoa to sit in the hot pan for an additional 5 minutes (or longer).
- In a medium bowl, toss the pears, chives and walnuts in the vinegar. Allow this mixture to sit until the quinoa is done.
- Fluff up the quinoa in the pan and then add it to the pear mixture.
- Mix well and serve hot or place the salad in the refrigerator and serve cold.
- The vinegar will keep your pears from discoloring overnight so make extra salad and enjoy it for a quick lunch.
- Cooked quinoa freezes well. Place it in the fridge to thaw a bit and reheat in a steamer or microwave. Fluff and serve.
- If Balsamic vinegar is too strong or sweet for you, substitute a pear or raspberry vinegar for a lighter flavor.
- Category: Salads & Bowls
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: Plant-based
Keywords: quick quinoa & pear salad