Saturday, July 1, 2017

Asparagus, Tomato, and Ancient Grain Salad


Yum

IN-SEASON, FRESH, CRISP vegetables are mixed with quinoa for texture and flavor, then topped with walnuts and feta for another layer of bold flavor.  All of this is drizzled with a reduced balsamic glaze that is TO DIE FOR! Asparagus, Tomato, and Ancient Grain Salad - Slice of Southern

I'm unofficially declaring 2017 the "summer of the salad"!

Everyone needs a great salad and this is one of my new creations. I took a regular vegetable salad combination like asparagus and tomatoes and decided to add an ancient grain (quinoa) to give it a little texture. Salads are an essential for hot summer nights, quick weeknight meals, meal prep or make ahead lunches and gatherings!  Did someone say 4th of July???

IN-SEASON, FRESH, CRISP vegetables are mixed with quinoa for texture and flavor, then topped with walnuts and feta for another layer of bold flavor.  All of this is drizzled with a reduced balsamic glaze that is TO DIE FOR! Asparagus, Tomato, and Ancient Grain Salad - Slice of Southern

If you don't know about quinoa then you are in for a treat.  They classify it as one of the ancient grains which means they are grown and cultivated in the same way for thousands of years.  Quinoa was called the "mother of all grains" and considered sacred by the Incas.  It's rich in fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants and is also considered gluten-free.

IN-SEASON, FRESH, CRISP vegetables are mixed with quinoa for texture and flavor, then topped with walnuts and feta for another layer of bold flavor.  All of this is drizzled with a reduced balsamic glaze that is TO DIE FOR! Asparagus, Tomato, and Ancient Grain Salad - Slice of Southern

ASPARAGUS, TOMATO, AND ANCIENT GRAIN SALAD

Regardless of all that scientific stuff quinoa tastes awesome.  It's boiled like rice and has a great tendency to absorb flavors, so it is perfect in salads!

You know there are salads. Then there are salads.  There are a lot of ho-hum everyday salads out there and then there are FRESH, UNIQUE, and IRRESISTIBLY INTERESTING salads.  This Asparagus, Tomato, and Ancient Grain Salad falls in that category.  In-season, fresh, crisp vegetables are mixed with quinoa for texture and flavor, then topped with walnuts and feta for another layer of bold flavor.  All of this is drizzled with a reduced balsamic glaze that is TO DIE FOR!  The key to this salad is using the very best ingredients you can find which will ensure outstanding flavors.

IN-SEASON, FRESH, CRISP vegetables are mixed with quinoa for texture and flavor, then topped with walnuts and feta for another layer of bold flavor.  All of this is drizzled with a reduced balsamic glaze that is TO DIE FOR! Asparagus, Tomato, and Ancient Grain Salad - Slice of Southern

One plus is that any left over dressing can be saved in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks and used on other salads, sautéed vegetables, or over strawberries.  Heaven!  So don't get rid of any leftover dressing, it's so good on it's own you might scoop out a taste with a spoon.  Beware! 

So think about Asparagus, Tomato, and Ancient Grain Salad as one of your side dishes in the upcoming 4th of July bash, or make sure to make this for a quick weeknight side dish.  It's very easy to put together and everyone will love your take on a refreshing grain salad.

Enjoy!




Asparagus, Tomato, and Ancient Grain Salad

Yield:  4 servings

Ingredients

Vinaigrette:
6 Tbls balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Salad:
1/2 cup quinoa
1 lb fresh asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces
1/2  pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 oz or 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled 
    Directions:

    For Quinoa:  Cook in a small saucepan according to package directions.  Set aside and allow to cool.

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile prepare vinaigrette - add vinegar to a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat and allow to boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Pour into a jar or bowl, add olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic and whisk to blend while seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

    In a large bowl add grape tomatoes and walnuts.  Add asparagus to boiling water and allow to boil until tender crisp, about 4 - 5 minutes. Meanwhile fill a medium mixing bowl with ice and cold water. Drain and immediately transfer asparagus to ice water, for 10 seconds then drain asparagus well on paper towels. Transfer to the bowl with tomatoes and walnuts.  Add the cooled quinoa and toss well to combine.

    Drizzle vinaigrette over the top and toss lightly. Sprinkle over the feta and serve.

    IN-SEASON, FRESH, CRISP vegetables are mixed with quinoa for texture and flavor, then topped with walnuts and feta for another layer of bold flavor.  All of this is drizzled with a reduced balsamic glaze that is TO DIE FOR! Asparagus, Tomato, and Ancient Grain Salad - Slice of Southern


    IN-SEASON, FRESH, CRISP vegetables are mixed with quinoa for texture and flavor, then topped with walnuts and feta for another layer of bold flavor.  All of this is drizzled with a reduced balsamic glaze that is TO DIE FOR! Asparagus, Tomato, and Ancient Grain Salad - Slice of Southern


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