Festive and healthy at the same time is a winning combination. While we often think of holiday meals leaning toward big hunks of meat and baked desserts, it may be just the time we should be thinking of cutting a bit here and there. If you’d like a gorgeous December salad that’s colorful and filling without being heavy, try this little plate of love. There’s plenty of shrimp (I bought cooked shrimp for ease of preparation) for those who need visible protein, but it’s off-set by the addition of lots high-fiber quinoa, green apples, red pomegranate seeds, cucumber, fresh cranberries, clementines, and spinach–to say nothing of the blue cheese grace notes. A light orange vinaigrette spiked with a bit of crushed red pepper tops it all. You could add some steamed, chopped asparagus or green beans, I think, but the spinach gives you lots of green. I served a little bread and butter with this salad to round out the meal. Try this:
shrimp-quinoa salad with winter fruit, pomegranate seeds, and blue cheese serves 2-3
|1.Make the quinoa: 1 cup dry quinoa to 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 25 minutes until tender. Cool at least a few minutes (stir to cool more quickly) before adding to salad. You’ll have leftover quinoa for soup or breakfast.
|2. Make Vinaigrette: 2T white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon honey, pinch each: salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. * Whisk together everything but the olive oil first, then drizzle in oil whisking until well-combined. In a separate medium bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette to marinate a half-pound cooked shrimp. (Reserve the rest of the vinaigrette for the salad.) Set aside while you chop the fruit.
|3.Chop 1/2 an at least partially peeled cucumber and 1/4 cup fresh cranberries, optional.
4. Slice thinly an unpeeled Granny Smith apple. Peel two clementines (or one orange) and separate them into segments.
|Here I began to mix just a small portion of the salad to try it out.
||Hey, I liked it!
5. In a large bowl, mix 1 cup cooled quinoa with 2 cups fresh spinach, and the marinated shrimp.
6. Gently stir in the cucumber, cranberries, apple slices, and clementines. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper.
7. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to moisten the salad well. Squeeze just a bit of lime juice over everything. Taste and adjust seasonings. You could add another pinch of crushed red pepper if you like a bit of heat.
8. Spoon the salad out onto a large serving platter and garnish with 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds and 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese. (2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans–optional) Serve immediately and pass the pepper grinder at the table.
Ingredients list: 1/2 pound cooked shrimp, 2 cups fresh spinach, 1 apple, 2 clementines or 1 orange, 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, 1/2 cucumber, 1/4 cup fresh cranberries (optional), Juice of one orange, 1/2 teaspoon honey, 2 T white wine vinegar, 1/2 lime, walnuts or pecans (optional), 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, crushed red pepper.
*If you like a sharper vinaigrette, use sherry vinegar or add 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard.
This vinaigrette is mild so that the fruit all speaks for itself.
Want to bring this a potluck? Put the sliced apples in with the shrimp and vinaigrette to keep them from browning. Bring the vinaigrette separately and dress the salad right before serving.
Wine: I liked this with a glass of California Chardonnay, but an Oregon Pinot Blanc might drink beautifully. I just sent a half-case of Bethel Heights Pinot Blanc for a Christmas gift. It might not be too late for you to do it, though the weather could be turning dicey for shipping. At $18 per bottle, it’s a beautiful northwest winery steal even if they have to wait until spring for delivery.
quinoa…It’s really a seed related to spinach or tumbleweed (rather than a grain) that can be traced back to ancient Peru…and yes, it’s gluten free.
Low in calories and fat, quinoa is high in carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. While it cooks in just about the same time and same way as white rice (maybe a few minutes longer), it also has close to the same amount of calories. A good source of all the amino acids, iron, potassium, and magnesium, quinoa also offers a bit of zinc– about 1/4 of the daily allowance for women.
Try quinoa as tasty hot breakfast cereal with maple syrup and hot milk, or as a good foil for spicy hot chili. This grain is luscious in salads and can sub for couscous or even rice in many places. On it’s own or nestled next to your chop, add a little butter, salt and pepper and it’s ready. Read all about quinoa here.
I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients: Read more about tasty quinoa at these sites:
Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
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Shrimp-Quinoa Salad with Feta and Tomatoes
These nuts are whipped up in no time. A bit of beaten egg white, some sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne and they’re into a low oven for an hour or so. Great gifts, we also serve them all throughout the season as a nibble with drinks or a salad topping. (Original recipe from my good cook and sister Helen…I’ve tinkered and damned it into submission over the years.)
this week on dinnerplace (cooking for one)
Make 6, just 6, Cornbread Muffins
Sing a new song,