Scarlet quinoa salad (Ann Johansson / For the Times )
The quinoa salad from M Cafe is bright, refreshing and filling if you're looking for something on the lighter side. Oh, and it's vegan. Quinoa is cooked with finely diced beets, which tint the grain a vibrant shade of red. Cool the quinoa, then add cucumber, lemon zest and herbs and toss the salad with a tangy fresh vinaigrette.
The recipe does require a little forethought when it comes to ingredients and a shopping list (you'll need to buy umeboshi vinegar -- available at select gourmet and Asian markets). And you might as well shop for extra of everything -- yeah, this salad is good enough you'll probably want a double batch.
For more quick-fix dinner ideas, check out our video recipe gallery here. Food editor Russ Parsons and Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter show you how to fix a dozen dishes in an hour or less.
Mac 'n' cheese recipes galore
Go behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen
Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen
You can find Noelle Carter on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest. Email Noelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scarlet quinoa salad
Total time: 45 minutes, plus cooling time for the quinoa
Note:Umeboshi (plum) vinegar can be found at Whole Foods markets and Asian markets.
2 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons dill pickle juice
1 tablespoon best-quality olive oil
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, pickle juice and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until needed. This makes one-fourth cup dressing.
Scarlet quinoa and salad assembly
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup finely diced red beets
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup diced Japanese or Persian cucumber
2 teaspoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1. Wash the quinoa under cold running water in a fine strainer. Drain well.
2. In a 2-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the beets, vegetable broth, olive oil and lemon juice. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the quinoa, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid.
3. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate the grains, uncovered, until cool.
4. Fluff the cooled grains and place them in a large bowl. Gently stir in the cucumber, chives, dill and lemon zest. Stir in half of the dressing, then taste the salad and add additional dressing or salt as desired.
Each serving: 146 calories; 4 grams protein; 22 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 5 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 220 mg. sodium.