Asian Pear Quinoa Salad

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Here’s another Asian inspired salad that you can whip up in less than 20 minutes on a hot summer evening–I am really on a roll with Asian cooking and summer salads these days and I have to say I’m thoroughly enjoying it! I have my mind (and heart) set on a South Pacific Asian adventure as soon as I can save up enough vacation time to Bali and Thailand, so I think I’m subconsciously gearing up for it and my taste buds are very appreciative. But back to the salad–most people tend to think of pears as a winter fruit, but their season actually lasts most of the year from September to July, and the amazingly juicy organic pears I bought at Trader Joes for this salad were certainly in season. I love the contrast of their sweetness against the buttery toasted walnuts and salty bacon and soy sauce or liquid aminos. I also have been using a lot of red quinoa lately, but I definitely think white quinoa is the way to go with this dish–it has a more subtle less bitter flavor that pairs well with the dressing.

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Asian Pear Quinoa Salad (Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything) (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4-6)

Salad:

  • 1 c. uncooked organic quinoa
  • 2 organic Bartlett pears, diced
  • 2 organic green onions, sliced
  • 4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 c. organic spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 organic red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 c. toasted walnuts, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Dressing:

  • 1/3 c. extra virgin organic grapeseed or olive oil
  • 1/3 c. organic rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp.  Bragg’s liquid aminos (or soy sauce, though beware it is not gluten free)
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp. raw honey
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  •  ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions–generally, boil 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water and 1 tsp. salt for 15 minutes. I like to let it rest in a covered pot away from any heat for an extra 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork for ideal texture. 1 cup dry quinoa should yield over 4 cups of cooked quinoa. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl add the cooled quinoa, pears, green onions, bacon, spinach, bell pepper and walnuts.

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Meanwhile prepare the dressing: Place the garlic clove on a cutting board and season with about 1/ 4 teaspoon of salt. Smash the salted clove with the flat surface of a chef’s knife and finely mince–this helps to soften some of the flavor since it is raw garlic. Combine remaining dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over quinoa mixture. Toss gently. You might not want to use all of the dressing depending on how wet you want your salad so add a little at a time. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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