When you watch as many cooking shows as I do, you tend to become familiar with the standard jargon that gets tossed around during the course of a given episode. There’s the “make sure to wash your hands very well after handling chicken!!” That one’s an oldy but a goodie. Then there’s the obligatory “al dente” definition — “it means ‘to the teeth!’” — that follows every time you’re told how to cook your pasta. And of course there’s the endless oggling of a dish in its final moments of preparation, which can take many forms but usually involves something to the effect of, “now would you look at how gorgeous this is?” The last of these is perhaps the most familiar and pervasive, often preceding every end-of-show sendoff. This is understandable, considering appearance is an important aspect of selling a dish. After all, no one cares if something is “healthful,” “super easy,” or even ”delish” if it’s going to scare their dinner guests away.
Despite this, I have to say that I’m not usually one to oggle my dishes. This is in large part because I’m usually so hungry and impatient by the time it’s ready that I tend to dig in the moment I get a chance, not allowing myself to take it all in. It’s only until I’m uploading my photos hours later that I appreciate the aesthetic aspects — or lack thereof — of a particular dish. But tonight was different. As I tossed the speckled red-pink pomagranates with the vibrant green parsley against a backdrop of fluffy quinoa, I was sort of mesmerized by the beauty of it all. So I took a moment just to stare.
Of course, it’s especially nice knowing that “beauty” here might as well be synonymous with “healthy.” With each contrast of color is a different vitamin, nutrient and disease-fighting property. Pomagranates are said to be the highest in antioxidants of all natural foods. They are also believed to prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. Cranberries are rich with antioxidants as well — even more so in dried form, as antioxidants are more concentrated in dried fruit. Then there’s parsley. It’s one of my favorite all-around ingredients, and boasts a laundry list of health properties. It can boost immunity, cleanse the kidneys, is a great source of iron and vitamin C, and can even be used as a digestive aid. And of course, it’s high in antioxidants. Add vitamin and antioxidant-rich bell pepper and the protein and fiber of quinoa, and this is one healthy salad.
Since quinoa is a “whole” protein, I like to eat this as a meal, but this would also make a great side dish or light lunch option with soup. I think you’ll really enjoy this salad. Feel free to experiment with your own antioxidant-rich additions as well.
Antioxidant Quinoa Salad:
Serves: 2-3 as a main course, 4-6 as a side
Look for pomegranates that are red on the outside and which feel heavy for their size. These will yield the best seeds. This salad can be served either warm, room temperature or chilled — all good! I like beige quinoa for this dish, as red tends to have a more prominent, nuttier flavor which I thought would overpower the other ingredients.
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well and drained
1/2 cup pomagranate seeds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/2 large green bell pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup curly parsely, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 1 1/2 limes)
generous pinch of salt, plus more to taste
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together olive oil and lime juice. When quinoa has cooked, toss with remaining ingredients. Add dressing and salt and toss until dressing is absorbed. Taste and add additional salt to taste.