Once spring hits, I can’t wipe this goofy grin off my face. Is it the longer hours of sun? Sure. The warmer temperatures? Of course. But what tickles me most is the food. After a winter of sustaining on kale and canned tomatoes, spring’s bounty makes me feel alive and refreshed. I can’t seem to get enough ramps, lettuce, asparagus, radishes, and chives and actually feel a pleasant frenzy in trying to consume as many as I can before this fleeting season takes them away for another year.
For me, the salad is the king of spring. Some made with lettuce, yes, but any chopped up pile of fruits, veggies, or grains will do – preferably served cold and with a vibrant vinaigrette. I like to make giant salads on Sunday to lunch on throughout the week. Last week’s asparagus, radish, and quinoa salad was so delicious I had to share it. Uniquely grassy asparagus and cleansing radish join forces with the nutritional powerhouse, quinoa, by way of a citrus and mint vinaigrette. The orange zest in the vinaigrette was a last minute addition and is, I think, what makes it special, so don’t leave it out!
A glass of Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect pairing with this meal. The wine’s grassy notes are echoed by the asparagus, and its juicy acidity balances the citrus in the dish.
Asparagus, Radish, and Quinoa Salad
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed of tough ends and chopped into 1-inch pieces
10 radishes, thinly sliced
3 c cooked quinoa (I used red, but any color will do)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one orange
Large pinch of salt
¼ c extra virgin olive oil
Large handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, fill ¾ of a large bowl with water and add 2 large handfuls of ice. Add the asparagus to the pot and boil for 2-3 minutes. Drain the asparagus pieces and immediately submerge in the icy water to chill and retain color.
2. In a small bowl, mix the chopped garlic, mustard, balsamic, lemon, zest, and salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
3. Drain the asparagus. In a large bowl, mix together the cooked quinoa, asparagus, and radishes. Add the chopped mint, pour over the vinaigrette, and stir to combine. Can be served immediately but tastes even better after the flavors marry in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
Did you know that there is a delicious vodka made from Quinoa? FAIR Vodka is produced using Quinoa which is cultivated by over 1,200 small producers in the Bolivian Altiplano. This is the 1st fair-trade certified vodka in the world. The quality of the spirit shines through with its soft gently sweet profile finishing with hints of toasted cereal. It’s gluten-free too!