Sometimes a salad is just a pleasingly refreshing salad. Sometimes it's a nicely worked out nutritional package, too.
For example, take this plum and quinoa salad. Plums are at their juicy best, but they and the other ingredients offer distinct health benefits.
Plums are rich in antioxidants, and are a source of iron, potassium and vitamin E.
Quinoa, once a staple of the ancient Incas, is now considered the "super grain" and a complete protein, because it provides all eight essential amino acids. It also has minerals, B vitamins and fiber.
Flax seed oil contains essential fatty acids and B vitamins.
Walnuts are "heart healthy" with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
So how does this good dish fit into your daily menus?
It would definitely make a great carryout item, for the backyard, beach or picnics, because it's delicious both chilled and at room temperature. The original intention was for use as a side dish, but by adding some grilled chicken, it could be a wonderful entree salad, too.
PLUM AND QUINOA SALAD
(Preparation 20 minutes, cooking time 12 to 15 minutes, chilling time 1 1/2 hours)
1 1/4 cups quinoa
2 1/2 cups water
2 large ripe plums, pitted and diced
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced green onions
3 tablespoons flax oil
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
Rinse quinoa and drain well. Add to boiling water; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let chill for about 30 minutes. Stir together quinoa, plums, walnuts, peppers and onions in a medium bowl. Whisk together oils, vinegar, honey and salt in a small bowl and pour over salad; toss well to coat all ingredients with dressing. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 370 cal., 23 g fat (2 g saturated), 0 g chol., 100 mg sodium, 36 g carbo., 4 g fiber, 8 g pro. Recipe developed for AP by the California Tree Fruit Agreement.