Some friendly advice: If you plan to make a vegan quinoa salad for dinner--and one of the diners is your father who, given the liberty, would eat eggs and bacon for breakfast, a meatball sub for lunch, and a veal shank for dinner--you ought to be prepared with a strapping dressing to douse over top.
Capable of such wizardry that compliments were sincere and second helpings were self-initiated, this gumptious tahini dressing makes up for a multitude of sins against the carnivorous.
The salad's contents, thank goodness, become an afterthought--so health it up or down as you wish. This dressing has your back.
Of course, if it's the evening after you served curried red lentil-coconut milk soup?
Well, then better have a slab of baby back ribs within reach.
Quinoa harvest salad with tahini-maple dressing
For the salad:
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 1 garlic clove, lightly smashed
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 cups water
- 1-1/2 small apples, chopped
- 3 ribs of celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, shaved into ribbons
- 1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup dried, unsweetened cranberries
- 2 Tbsp. roasted, salted sunflower seeds
- one 5-oz. clamshell of mixed organic greens, for serving
For the dressing:
- 1/3 cup of tahini
- 1-1/2 Tbsp. of maple syrup
- smashed garlic clove from above, microplaned
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- splash of apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 Tbsp. water
- 1 tsp. salt
- freshly ground pepper
Rinse the quinoa under cold water in a fine mesh strainer to remove the saponin (a bitter-tasting protective coating that does nothing for its reputation).
Heat the garlic clove and olive oil in a saucepan set over medium-low heat until fragrant. Remove the garlic, reserving it for the dressing.
Add the quinoa, stirring to toast it and to build up its confidence. After a minute or two, add the salt and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the liquid has absorbed, about 13 to 15 minutes. Let it rest, still covered but off the heat, for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, turn your attention to that dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a tight-lidded vessel and shake it like a meat-eater might. Adjust its consistency with more water, and its flavor with anything lacking. It should be delicious (and liquid-y) enough to drink through a straw--though I don't recommend it.
Fluff the quinoa with a fork before tipping it into a mixing bowl and giving it a chance to cool. Join it with all of the toppings (through the sunflower seeds) and about half the dressing.
In another bowl, toss the greens with a dash of the remaining dressing, keeping what's left next to your father for him to administer as needed.