Earlier this year I met Authentic Suburban Gourmet’s Lisa for lunch at Bocanova in Jack London Square (Oakland). It was an unseasonably warm winter day so we caught up over chilled wine and shared several small plates. I was in Lisa’s hands as she was quite familiar with the restaurant’s menu while it was my first visit. Though I do remember each dish being quite good (and I don’t say that about many restaurants) one in particular has been on my mind since that lunch: Bocanova’s quinoa salad.
I have to admit that when Lisa suggested having the quinoa salad I was not exactly excited about it (I didn’t tell her that, of course). I like quinoa and have served it at home many times but until that day it hadn’t exactly made it to the top of my list of favorite foods. I agreed because when Lisa says something is delicous you believe her. She knows–and cooks–great food. Sure enough, the quinoa salad turned out to be my favorite dish that day (thanks, Lisa!) and to be craving it several months later was saying a lot. It’s a pity that I don’t remember everything that was in the salad but it would be hard to forget big chunks of duck confit, watercress (or was it spinach?), pistachios and (if I remember correctly) chopped fruit. At least to me, the ingredients seemed an unlikely combination for a salad but they wowed my taste buds. Lisa and I ate every last bite of that quinoa salad (and polished off all the other dishes, too) and I promised myself to try it at home soon.
So when I cleaned out my pantry recently and discovered three bags of quinoa I knew just what to make. My version omits the meat and nuts and is built on my basic tabbouleh recipe but besides loading it with just herbs, I piled on grapes and pomegranates to give it a more fruity quality. I also cooked the quinoa in stock and sumac for an added layer of flavor so even if this salad is not exactly like the one I enjoyed at Bocanova, the latter remains the inspiration for this colorful, festive summer salad.
* If you happen to have leftover duck confit (or even chicken or turkey) and pistachios, I recommend that you add them in this salad. It would make for a well-balanced, filling main dish.
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ grapes, halved
- ¼ cup pomegranate arils
- 2 – 3 sprigs fresh mint, chopped
- ½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 Persian cucumber, chopped
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- It’s best to use chilled leftover quinoa here. Originally I cooked 2 cups quinoa in 3½ – 4 cups stock and 1 teaspoon sumac but I ended up with about 5-6 cups cooked. To cook just enough quinoa for this recipe, you will need only ¾ – 1 cup uncooked quinoa. Alternatively, you can just cook it in water, too. Chill before tossing in the salad.
- In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients from the quinoa to the cucumber in a bowl. Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice (adjust amounts of both to suit your taste) over the mixture and toss gently to combine.