Quinoa Current Curry Salad


Friggin', friggin' quinoa...

On its own, un-gussied up quinoa is nothing more than a blah, bland, boring side dish –– a steaming heap of slightly bitter, somewhat chewy, faux-hipster-rice-wanna-be-gluten-free-particulates that have taken on the moniker: "healthy grain alternative."  Unfortunately, the way it's so typically prepared and served, quinoa should more accurately be called the "cardboard-flavored grain alternative."

NOT that I have an opinion about this.

But –– BUT –– there is an upside to quinoa's boring blandness (and I don't mean this in any sort of snarky, sarcastic way).

Quinoa's boring blandness actually makes it the perfect vehicle for carrying around strong and contrasting flavors.  Sorta' like tofu, but without any of the weird (and frankly, icky) estrogen emulators found in soy products…  And, as a quick sidenote, the easiest way to take ANY bland side dish and turn it into something flavorful, exciting, and –– dare I say it –– sexy, is to infuse those bland, basic elements of the dish with strong, contrasting flavors.

Here in our household –– our flavorful, exciting, and healthy household –– blah, bland, unadorned, plain ol' quinoa has been banned as a side dish…

But –– BUT –– Quinoa Current Curry Salad has become a much-requested item, one that's served often as an accompaniment to fish and chicken.

This dish presents a perfect combination of strong and contrasting flavors, with the sweetness of dried currents going head-to-head in heated battle against the tartness of lime juice and vinegar, while the cool tones of mint and cilantro work in opposition (but a friendly opposition) to the mellow-yet-assertive heat of curry-toasted sunflower seeds.

It's as if the Crimean War has been re-enacted in a small mixing bowl, but with a very flavorful outcome.

Sorry…  That was a horrible analogy.  And, besides, how many people actually know what/when/where the Crimean War was fought anyways?

Well, certainly the Crimeans...

Anyways...  Let's make this dish!

Though this salad is really quite easy to make, there are four distinct steps involved with its preparation, and you'll probably want to take these steps in a somewhat linear fashion –– at least the first time around.  The full ingredient list will be at the bottom of this post.  In the meantime, follow along as we go through the steps:

Step 1:  Cooking the Quinoa.

• Take one cup of dried Quinoa, and soak for at least a half hour in cold water.  Rinse...  Rinse again.  Drain.

• Place the Quinoa in a small pot, and add one cup of cold water, and one cup of Broth (either vegetable or chicken).

• Place the pot on a stovetop.  Turn the heat up to medium, and bring the mix to a boil.  Allow to boil for about thirty seconds.

• Reduce heat to low.  Place a lid on the pot.  Cook till done, though still slightly chewy –– approximately 15 minutes.

• Remove from heat.  Place quinoa in a large bowl, set aside, and allow to cool.

Step 2: Making the Toasted Curried-Sunflower Seeds.

• Pour about two tablespoons of Olive Oil into a medium sized non-stick skillet.

• Add one tablespoon of Lemon Juice to the skillet.

• Add 1/2 teaspoon of Salt to the skillet.

• Turn the heat up to medium, and slightly reduce the liquid –– probably about thirty seconds of actual cook time once the skillet is hot.

• Add 3/4's cup of shelled, raw Sunflower Seeds.

• Keep the heat on medium, and use a spatula to move the Seeds around, coating them with oil.

• The Seeds should be moved around regularly to keep from scorching.

• After about four minutes of cooking on the stovetop, sprinkle two teaspoons of Curry Powder onto the Sunflower Seeds.

• Continue to cook for about two or three more minutes, constantly moving the Sunflower/Curry mix around.

• Remove from heat.  Place the toasted Seeds into a small dish, and allow to cool.

Step 3: Preparing the Vinaigrette.

• Pour 1/4 cup of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil into a small bowl.

• Add the juice of one Large Lime.

• Add one Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar.

• Add three Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar.

• Add one Tablespoon of the Minced Mint Leaves.

• Add one Tablespoon of the Minced Cilantro Leaves.

• Add one small Minced Clove of Garlic.

• Add a pinch of salt.

• Whisk.  And then let sit/marinate/infuse/whatever for a while.

Step 4: Combining the remain ingredients.

• It’s important that you allow the Quinoa and Sunflower seeds to cool down for at least twenty minutes, otherwise, you’ll have an ugly gooey mess.

• Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of Minced Mint Leaves to the bowl.

• Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of Minced Cilantro Leaves.

• Add two large stalks of Chopped Celery.

• Add half a medium-sized Chopped Green Apple.  Eat the other half.

• Add half a Cup of Dried Currents.

• Add the Curried-Sunflower Seeds.

• Pour the Vinaigrette mixture over everything.

• Use a fork to mix and fluff everything up.

• Place in a refrigerator and allow to chill.


By the way, this dish pairs nicely with grilled salmon, especially a salmon that’s been lightly drizzled with a bit of olive oil and preserved lemon just before cooking.  As an accompanying side dish, you can also add in some oven roasted sweet potatoes (which will be a future post) to create the perfect trio of complimentary –– and contrasting –– flavors.


Here are the ingredients you’ll want to have on hand while preparing the dish:

• One Cup of dried Quinoa

• Three-quarters Cup of shelled, raw Sunflower Seeds.

• A bit more than 1/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (you’ll end up partially dividing this)

• One Tablespoon of Lemon Juice
• The juice from one Large Lime
• One Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar
• Three Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar

• Four Tablespoons of Minced Mint Leaves (you’ll divide these)

• Four Tablespoons of Minced Cilantro Leaves (you’ll divide these, too)

• Two large stalks of Celery, chopped fine

• Half a medium-sized Green Apple, also chopped fine.
• Half a Cup of Dried Currents.

• Two teaspoons of Curry Powder.

• A bit more than 1/2 teaspoon of salt (you’ll end up partially dividing this)