30 July 2013

Creamy Quinoa Salad With Basil-Orange Cashew Sauce

This is the last recipe to round out the salad month, and it's one for those hot days where you need something good for dinner but you can't fathom putting anymore heat in your kitchen or energy into your preparations. The last few days have been so sultry here that meals like these salads are all I can manage. But believe me, I'm not settling for just anything to appease my appetite under the sizzling sun. This one is a winner, and I would gladly make it anytime. In the winter I would substitute citrus for the plums. But right now the stone fruits are so sweet and juicy, and I especially could not pass up the plums since they pair so well with orange and basil. For a light summer dinner, enjoy this quinoa dish with the massaged chard salad.

Creamy Quinoa Salad With Basil-Orange Cashew Sauce
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups white quinoa
Cashew sauce (recipe below)
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
2 plums, chopped
1/2 small bunch basil, thinly sliced (~15 leaves)
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Juice of 1/2 orange for drizzling
1/4 tsp. salt + freshly ground pepper, to taste

Rinse quinoa well and drain. Combine quinoa, 3 cups of water, and a pinch of salt in a medium sauce pot, and cover. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook for 15-16 minutes, until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let set for 5 minutes, covered.

While quinoa cooks, prepare the cashew sauce and remaining ingredients.

When the quinoa is ready immediately toss it with the cashew sauce in a large mixing bowl. Stir in onion, pistachios, plums, basil, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust for seasoning, then add a final drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of orange, if desired.

Basil-Orange Cashew Sauce
Yields ~1/2 cup

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours (or overnight), and drained
1/2 small bunch basil (~15 leaves + soft stems)
1 date, pitted
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove
1/4 tsp. salt
2-4 Tbsp. water (to reach desired consistency)

Add cashews and the next 8 ingredients (through salt) to a food processor or blender. Blend for 1 minute or until the mixture becomes a thick, smooth sauce. It will be closer to a paste than a sauce at this point. Add enough water to make a thick but pourable sauce and blend to combine. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

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