cucumber mint quinoa salad with shallot vinaigrette

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When it comes to cookbooks, I used to be a hoarder. Easily seduced by minimalist, four-color photography (don’t even get me started on my affliction for Donna Hay’s stark, alabaster shoots), I’d find myself carting home large tomes that would remain in home, untouched, for years. You know the kind of books of which I speak–beautiful, but unrealistic. Recipes that call for mail-order ingredients, or procedures on the level of planning a rocket launch at NASA. The books make for good type and a little creature comfort, but nothing else. I used to own dozens (!!!) of these books until a recent move made me comb through all my books, asking myself…

WOULD I MAKE THIS?

Suffice it to say, 50% of the cookbooks didn’t make the cut. Now, I’m left with an array of recipes that are the kind that make you bolt out of bed, however, for the most part, they involve baking. And GLUTEN.

While I do have plans to bring back a roasted strawberry scone (it’s coming, kids, I assure you), I realized that I’ve somewhat an imbalanced collection–so many books focused on the art of baking and so little devoted to the art of cooking healthy food.

Perhaps because so many veg books fall under the category of: Pretty, but are you kidding me? Where am I going to get NETTLES? Do I have five hours to make stock? What is daikon, etc I’ve about three strong books filled with uncomplicated gluten-free recipes made for this carnivore, and yesterday, I added a new tome to the collection, Bountiful. I’m excited to dive into these recipes (not all are gluten-free, but a lot are wonderful ideas, which can be easily manipulated), and first up is this delicious cucumber + mint quinoa.

While so many quinoa recipes are hit or miss, this one is the business. The shallot vinaigrette paired with the herbs makes you feel as if you’re eating couscous, if that makes any sense. The flavor profile is rich, sweet and salt, and the mint and cucumbers imbue freshness to an otherwise heady dish.

Make this NOW, my friends. NOW.

Also, if you have any solid cookbook recommendations, please leave them in the comments. I’m into fresh food (non-processed), simple recipes, killer stories and great photography.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from Bountiful
For the shallot dressing
1/4 cup/60ml olive or grapeseed oil
3 large shallots, minced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cane sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly cracked black pepper

For the salad
1 cup/170g raw quinoa, rinsed
2 cups of water
1 cup/135g diced cucumber
1/2 cup/40g chopped fresh mint

DIRECTIONS
Make the shallot dressing: In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive or grapeseed oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until a light golden brown or until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil, the sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, vinegar, lemon juice and pepper to taste. Stir until the sugar dissolves and all the ingredients are well combined. Set aside to marinate briefly.

Make the salad: In a saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 cups (480ml) water. Bring to a simmer, cover, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, or until the water is fully absorbed. Place the cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Add the cucumbers and chopped mint and stir to combine.

Add the shallot dressing and toss well to coat. Serve immediately, or chill in the refrigerator and toss again before serving.

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