This simple quinoa side salad with zest and zing, is my welcome to warmer temperatures, and the possibilities of longer days with more sunlight.
With the refreshing punch of fresh lemon juice, mint and parsley; the quinoa gets a spice kick from jalapeño pepper, and the added crunch of pecans.
Before we get to the recipe; in case you missed the Indian-Breads Fest last month, check out the entire collection here, filled with pictorials and stuffing/topping ideas for homemade Indian flatbreads Naan and Chapati, Dosa and Paratha.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 4 whole cloves
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 2 round thin slices of lemon or lime
- 1 tablespoon + 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (use Serrano chili for a spicier touch)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¾ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons (12-15 large leaves) chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- ½ cup chopped pecans (or nuts of choice)
- Cook the quinoa in water as per package directions with two exceptions: First, add whole cloves, black peppercorns and lemon slices to the water along with the quinoa. Secondly, reduce cook time by 2-3 minutes, steaming the quinoa covered off-the-flame, for 10 minutes post-cooking. Fluff quinoa with a fork and discard the whole spices and lemon slices.
- Toast pecan nuts in an oven or on a dry pan (no oil or water) for a couple of minutes. Leave aside till required.
- In a shallow sauté pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil with chopped garlic and jalapeño pepper. Add the warm quinoa, ground cumin and lightly toss the cooked quinoa in the flavored olive oil for a couple of minutes only.
- Make a dressing: add lemon juice, salt, cracked black pepper and whisk together. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil into the lemon mix to create a salad dressing.
- In a serving bowl, add the lemon dressing to the warm quinoa, along with chopped fresh mint, parsley and toasted nuts. Mix using a fork so the quinoa grains don’t get compacted.
- Serve the Lemon and Mint Spicy Quinoa Salad warm or at room temperature with your favorite entrée.
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