Healthy Heat Wave Dinner

Why yes, I tweeted my dinner.

Usually, I’m not that girl. I don’t often tweet about what I eat, unless of course it’s pancakes or ice cream and family, friends and regular readers understand that pancakes and ice cream are holy grails to me. So they don’t count. But this dinner was, well, amazing. I had picked up a copy of the magazine Cook Fresh from Fine Cooking on a whim. I needed some kitchen and nutrition inspiration and this looked promising. I was right.

It’s been hot in Western New York this week. And humid. The only person I never knew who loved this weather was my maternal grandmother. Then again, she never did a 3-hour brick in the heat and humidity. Note to the city of Buffalo, county of Erie and state of New York — we could use more public water fountains in all parks and playgrounds. Seriously. Forget banning giant sodas. See if you can get pouring rights to sponsor public water fountains. I’d gladly take a drink out of an Aquafina-sponsored fountain. Ah, but the heat made me digress.

Back to dinner.

The weather has made it uncomfortable to turn on many appliances in the kitchen. I wanted something more than green leaf salad but still quick, cool and healthy. Enter this recipe for quinoa and avocado salad with dried fruit. Quinoa, if you’re not familiar with it yet, is a high protein grain. It cooks similar to rice but has a different texture and a nutty flavor. Avocados have become one of my favorite vegetables. (Don’t let the fat content scare you away.) and the combination of dried fruit and spices add a great balance to the dish. I cut the recipe (which serves four) in half to create two meals for myself. It’s easy and as a bonus, it’s healthy, vegetarian and wheat-free.

Quinoa & Avocado Salad with Dried Fruit

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs. raisins (a mix of drank and golden)
  • 2 Tbs. dried apricots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red or white quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 large lemon
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 medium ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 2 medium scallions, white and light green pets, sliced
  • 2-3 Tbs. chopped toasted almonds
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  • In a medium bowl soak the raisins and apricots in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • In a 2-quarter saucepan bring 2 cups of water (or vegetable broth) and the quinoa to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. (About 10-15 minutes.) Fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  • Squeeze 1 Tbs. of lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk with the olive oil, coriander, cumin and paprika.
  • In a large bowl, toss the vinaigrette with the quinoa, raisins, apricots, avocado, scallions and almonds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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