Nectarine Quinoa Salad

A great summer salad

This is the season when some of my favorite fruits–peaches, nectarines, and plums–begin to appear in the stores, and this year there have been some wonderful deals–signs of a good harvest? Whatever the reason, I am taking advantage and finding all kinds of good ways to use these.

Now is the time for slicing them on cereal, for making fresh sorbet, for pies and crisps and all manner of desserts. And yes, even, as with today’s recipe, including them in salads. 

This is a main dish salad that includes lots of protein as well as all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that these brightly colored vegetables and the nectarines add.  Some good bread on the side, and you have the makings of a healthy and beautiful meal. 

As with just about any salad, this is a recipe that should be considered as only a start. Note the italicized suggestions that provide suggestions if you don’t happen to have all the original ingredients in the refrigerator. 

The dressing recipe makes a good amount, and you’ll be glad to have the leftovers for another time. The addition of orange juice to the honey mustard combination adds a special flavor that works well with any tossed salad combination.  here  you will likely have leftover dressing with the amounts included in this recipe. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week or more so it will be nice to have it ready for another meal.

Nectarine Quinoa Salad 

1 cup quinoa, red or white

2 cups water

2 teaspoons seasoning powder or 2 bouillon cubes–either chicken or vegetable flavor

1/3 cup sweet onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup diced celery (or sliced radishes)

1/2 cup diced cucumber 

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil (or ½ to 1 teaspoon dried)

app 2 cups baby spinach, coarsely torn (or romaine, shredded red cabbage, and/or kale)

2 nectarines, coarsely diced
1/4 cup sliced almonds

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Prepare the quinoa according to package instructions, adding the seasoning powder or bouillon cubes along with the water. Drain well if all the water has not been absorbed. Cool slightly

2. Tear the greens and put in a large bowl. Add the diced vegetables and basil. Stir in the drained quinoa, nectarines, and almonds. Toss with the dressing, adding a tablespoon or so at a time until desired amount is used. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

NOTE: To prepare ahead: Combine the cooled quinoa with all except the nectarines, almonds, and spinach. Chill until ready to serve. Stir in the nectarines and spinach and toss with dressing. Sprinkle almonds over the top.

Orange Honey Mustard Dressing

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons brown mustard

orange juice–see directions below for amount
1 clove garlic–if fresh is not available, jarred garlic may be used

1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

1 teaspoon black pepper

olive oil–see directions below for amount 

1.  Pour the honey and mustard into a 2 cup measure meant for liquids. Add enough orange juice to bring the mixture to the half cup line. 

2.  Add the garlic and salt and pepper to the cup and then pour in enough olive oil to bring the mixture to the one cup line.

3. Whisk until well combined OR pour the mixture into a jar with a tight cover and shake until completely blended. 

Store any unused dressing in the refrigerator.

Dressing Notes

Use the best quality brown mustard you have but not the kind that is “whole grain;” that will not blend well. In the same way, this is a better place for finely ground black pepper instead of the coarser results you will get from a pepper grinder. 

The orange juice? As you can see in the picture, I keep concentrated orange juice on hand, because I rarely have “regular” orange juice in the refrigerator, and I also don’t always have oranges available. For this recipe, add a tablespoon of juice concentrate to the honey and mustard and then fill the measure to the half cup line.

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