This week I wanted to bring the Californian sun to all my reader's, especially those who live in a cold place. I love the beauty of winter sceneries but, since I grew up in Canada where winter still reigns and seems to have no end, I totally get it when my friends and family tell me they are so tired of it! My answer to the winter blues is this adorable salad. Look at these baby peas! They couldn't be cuter! This recipe is basically sunshine in a bowl. And you know what? I promise you can make this flavorful and fresh salad at home with simple and available ingredients, even when spring has not yet arrived!
Quinoa is really the star of this salad! It's not only our favorite grain (except for the mess the kids are doing every time we eat it!), it plays a interesting supporting role in vegetatian recipes. In fact, this pseudo-grain is a complete protein and is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Thus, it's an exceptional ingredient to add to your diet that will keep you satisfied until your next meal. As for the taste, the cooked grains are fluffy but remain lightly crunchy, with a nutty flavor. If you try it for the first time, you want to make sure you don't skip the rinsing step prior to cooking. Most people don't like quinoa the first time they try it only because they forgot that important part! Un-rinsed quinoa tastes like soap (due to the "bitter-tasting" saponin natural coat on the grain)...... not the taste we're looking for in a salad, right?
When I do this salad, I usually use a mix of fresh sugar snap peas, frozen peas and edamame. Fresh peas are so tasty! Every time I buy them, I sit down with my kids and we do like our grandmothers used to do ; shelling our peas, one by one... The kids actually love this activity! When you involve them in food preparation, it's so easier to make them eat their food! The peas are like their little treasure! The only problem is getting through the pea basket without eating them all ;) Make sure you don't throw aways the pods. Finely chopped, they are great in a warm comforting miso soup. Also, if you can't find fresh peas, don't worry! I also use frozen organic peas and edamame. I just blanched them for one minute in boiling water and transfer them into ice water to preserve their nice green color. Uncooked, frozen peas almost taste like fresh ones.
The crumbled feta adds a nice salty and creamy touch to this salad! Every week, when we go to the Mountain View's Farmer's Market, we really try to support all the organic growers, local artisans and food producers by buying a few things in each stand, even if it's only a bunch of carrots. We take the time to talk with these hard working people about their products and lifestyle. Even if we don't eat a lot of cheese, there's this tiny stand that sells incredible sheep's yogourt, cheese and milk soap. They produce a raw aged sheep's feta that tastes like heaven! Their animals live outside, are treated with love and respect, are grass-fed and do not produce milk all year long like machines. For us, buying organic eggs and dairy products isn't just enough, because that label doesn't mean the animals lived a decent life. Therefore, we try to buy cheese/yogourt and eggs from producers we know well and that are willing to show pictures, open their farms or speak about how they treat their animals.
As you can see, most of my recipes don't entirely relate on cheese. That way, you can easily make the vegan version. If you don't eat cheese, don't pass on this one! I've done this recipe without any cheese, or with crumbles of almond cheese as well as tofu feta, and all the versions were delicious too! The fresh mint, lemon zest, crunchy radish and almond slices, baby sprouts and peas make this easy salad the best! Plus, it's a perfect pot-luck or weekdays recipe!
Quinoa, peas, mint, feta & lemon salad
Yield : 6 servings
Recipe inspired by Cannelle et Vanille
- 1,5 cup quinoa
- 3 cups purified water
- 200g (7 onces) feta, crumbled
- Juice and zest of 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2,5 cups peas (1 cup edamame + 1,5 cup fresh & frozen peas)
- 6 radish, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup watercress or arugula
- 1/2 cup baby sprouts (I like radish, kale or arugula sprouts)
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
- A handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
Bring 3 cups of water to boil. Add the quinoa, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook for about 15 minutes. The quinoa will absorb all the water. Let cool and set aside.
Meanwhile, blanch the peas in boiling water for 1 minute. Pour the peas in a bowl of ice water.
Add the blanched peas, cooled quinoa and the other ingredients into a bowl. Toss well and serve.