By Samantha
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My first time making quinoa was not a good experience. It was probably about 10 years ago, before quinoa hit its hype stride. I tried using it in place of rice in a stir-fry dish and I was sorely disappointed by its texture. If I were not so OCD about food waste, it probably would have gone in the trash!

Now I have come to learn there’s a time and a place for quinoa. I think it does wonders for vegetable dishes, salads and soups, the way it adds a great crunchiness and texture.

One of the best quinoa dishes I ever had was at Zoubi’s in New Hope, and I’ve been trying to recreate the dish at home ever since. The Crunchy Hipster Salad, as they called it, had house-pickled veg, nuts/seeds and dried fruit. It was different every time we went, and it was delicious every time, which leads me to believe the formula is fairly simple.

Quinoa + pickled veg + nuts/seeds + dried fruit + simple dressing =

healthy lunch or dinner when you need it

I have made this salad a handful of times and it always ends up very flavorful and also very filling! A quick pickle of whatever veg you have in the house will do. I had some beautiful watermelon radishes and beets from Blue Moon Acres so those were a no-brainer. I love pumpkin seeds here, but you could also use sunflower or slivered almonds. Rehydrated cranberries or golden raisins add some much needed sweetness. Finally, a dressing created with the vinegar from the quick-pick, some bright citrus and olive oil is all you really need.

Crunchy Hipster Salad

Inspired by Zoubi Restaurant

Serves 4

2 cups quinoa, prepared to package description

6 small watermelon radishes, thinly sliced

4 small beets, any color, peeled & thinly sliced

½ small red onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

1 cup of your favorite vinegar (white, rice, apple cider all work well)

1 small lemon wedge

  • Thinly slice all vegetables with a mandolin.
  • In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of vinegar,1/2 cup water and a pinch of sugar and salt to a boil. Throw in the sliced beets and let them boil for about 5 minutes to soften them. Turn off heat and let cool before putting in a container (with a lid). Mix in red onions, put on the lid and store in the fridge.
  • In another small container (with a lid), cover watermelon radishes with ½ cup of vinegar and ½ cup of water. Store in fridge.
  • Let the veg sit in the vinegar for at least 30 minutes to an hour (can be done the night before).
  • After the veg has been taken care of, cook the quinoa to the package directions.
  • Fluff quinoa with a fork, and let cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes, until the pickled vegetables are ready to use.
  • In a large bowl mix up the quinoa with all of the vegetables, pouring in small amounts of the pickling liquid at a time until you get to a vinegar level you are happy with. I find that it takes about ½ a cup.
  • Drizzle in some olive oil, squeeze with a small lemon wedge, season with salt and serve!
About the Author

Grazin' in New Jersey since 1988

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