Who Would Have Thought an Old-World Grain and Some Grass Could Taste So Magnificent? We Show You How to Introduce A Puffed Quinoa Salad to Your Dinner Party Table.
What Is Puffed Quinoa?
KEEN-Wah! I ate quinoa before I knew how to pronounce it. It has somewhat of a cult status don’t you think? One day I hadn’t heard of it and the next it was everywhere! It became the superfood everyone wanted to get their hands on.
There are so many easy quinoa salad recipes out there but I reckon this is one of the best quinoa recipes in our repertoire using puffed quinoa.
Quinoa is an old-world grain, well technically it’s a seed, that can be traced back to the Inca Empire of South America. Quinoa has so many benefits. It’s nutritious, high in antioxidants, protein, and fibre, Gluten Free (yay!), and is low GI.
Considering all these wonderful benefits, why has is only become trendy of late when the South Americans have been eating it for thousands of years?
But to make it even trendier, which makes me love it even more, is that you can pop them!
It doesn’t pop like corn does but the principal is the same. You can pop them in a skillet, pot, or oven. I for one, just get them already popped. I buy my puffed quinoa from my local organics food store.
What Is Wild Rice?
Wild rice is actually a grass found mainly in North America.
When I learnt that, I had 2 immediate thoughts. Never thought grass would taste so good and why call it ‘rice’ when its ‘grass’! I’m Asian so when you call it rice, I eat it!
Luckily, its glorious nutty flavour and rice like texture won me over and it’s now an ingredient I love putting in my salads.
There are many health benefits of wild rice too. These include improving your digestive system, is low in calories, boosts immunity and is free of gluten. Some have said that it helps with weight loss and has anti-ageing properties. I’m always sceptical of spruiking those benefits because seriously…. If it really did I’d be eating it by the bucket loads! But hey, if it does, bonus!
How to Eat Dried Figs?
You can eat dried figs as it is. I eat them either straight out of the packet or in this instance, slice them up for the salad. I like that chewy texture.
If you prefer a softer, plumper consistency, you can soak them in water for about 10-15 minutes. Remove them from the water and pat them dry. You’ll find it will be easier to slice them as they have softened.
Why I Love Wild Rice Salad with Puffed Quinoa and Dried Figs
I love this salad because it combines so many exotic ingredients that I never grew up with. It gives me a chance to play with ingredients we don’t have in our everyday pantry.
The puffed quinoa doesn’t have an overly distinctive taste, even when toasted, but it’s the texture it provides the salad that I’m after.
It is a visually good-looking salad. Whenever I make it I always get an immediate “oh wow!”.
It is also a great accompaniment to saucy main dishes, so you can soak it up in the rice. The figs provide the sweet component, the pine nuts are laced throughout the nutty flavoured wild rice to give it that slight bitter, toasted flavour in every mouthful.
How to Make Wild Rice Salad with Puffed Quinoa and Dried Figs
Cook the Wild and Brown Rice
Boil the wild rice in a small saucepan for 30 minutes. The water to wild rice ratio is 1 cup of wild rice to 3 cups of water.
Boil the brown rice in another small saucepan or rice cooker for 30 minutes as well. The ratio is 1 cup of medium grain brown rice to 1.5 cups of water. I then leave it in the saucepan for a further 10 minutes to steam it and ensure it becomes light and fluffy. If you love brown rice you may also like our Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms, Lotus Root and Brown Rice Salad .
Toast the Puffed Quinoa and Pine Nuts
In a small fry pan, without any oil, dry toast the puffed quinoa on low heat for 30 seconds. I tend to just pick up the fry pan and shake it for an even distribution. They toast quickly so watch it!
After the puffed quinoa is nice and toasty, do the same for the pine nuts. It takes a little longer but toast it until it turns golden brown. Will only take a minute or 2.
Slice the Dried Figs and Onion
You want the dried figs to be sliced into small slivers as you don’t want too much of that sweetness throughout the salad. It’s an enhancer, not the main ingredient. I suggest cutting the dried fig into half and then cutting them into thin slices.
For the onion, slice them thinly so it’s easier to caramelise in the fry pan. You want them cooked well as it adds to the sweetness of the salad and provides an element that’s not dry.
How to Make the Allspice Balsamic Vinaigrette
This is a simple process. In a small mixing bowl, add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, allspice, and sugar. Give it a good whisk so that the sugar is well and truly dissolved.
Personally, I like putting in an old jar and I shake it so its well mixed. I then put it in the fridge until I am ready to dress the salad.
How to Assemble the Salad
Just mix all the ingredients together and also include the double roasted chickpeas!
This salad can be prepared ahead of time and does not need to be assembled at the last minute. This is another key reason for making this salad as I may need time to get the other dishes for the dinner party done closer to the serving time.
A great “here’s something I prepared earlier” salad!
The colours are a bit subdued in this salad so bring out that platter you have always wanted to use! This is the perfect salad to go with any colour or design.
We love rice salads during the summer and they make for a great accompaniment to a main dish that is quite heavy in flavour. This wild rice salad recipe is easy to make and simply delicious as it continues to be one of my go to salads. Hope you’ll enjoy it too!
More Vegan Salad Recipes:
- Asparagus, Roasted Onion and Balsamic Tomato Salad
- Breakfast Salad with Mushrooms, Avocado and Tomatoes
- Risoni, Asparagus and Edamame Salad
- Soba Noodle Salad with Pearl Oyster Mushrooms
- Breakfast Salad with Mushrooms, Avocado and Tomatoes
Easy Salad Dressing Recipes:
Vegan Wild Rice Salad with Puffed Quinoa and Dried Figs
- Rinse the wild rice. Place in a small saucepan and add 1 ½ cups of water. Close the lid and boil on medium heat for 30 minutes. Drain in colander and rinse in cold water and pat dry.
- Rinse the brown rice. Place in a small saucepan and add 1 ½ cups of water. Close the lid and boil for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it steam in the pot for a further 10 minutes. Remove the brown rice from the pot and allow to cool.
- Dry toast the puffed quinoa in a small fry pan for 30 seconds.
- Dry toast the pine nuts in a small fry pan until golden brown.
- Cut the dried figs in half. Slice them into thin wedges.
- Slice the red onion thinly. Add 2 tsp of olive oil and fry in a medium fry pan until caramelised. Remove and allow to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked wild rice, cooked brown rice, toasted puffed quinoa, toasted pine nuts, sliced dried figs, caramelised red onions and double roasted chickpeas. Mix well.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, allspice, and sugar.
- Stir until well combined.
- Remove the garlic from the dressing.
- Add the dressing to the pre-mixed salad ingredients.
- Add chopped coriander and mix thoroughly.
- You can replace brown rice for any other rice.
- Puffed quinoa may be replaced with any other puffed grains such as amaranth or sorghum.
- If you would like your dried figs softer, soak for 10-15 minutes.
- This is one of those salads where you can prepare ahead of time so if you’re entertaining, it’s great to have as you can make it earlier and concentrate on other dishes. Just dress when you’re ready to eat.