The mister and I just celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. One thing I’ve learned throughout the years is that some of my FAVORITE things to eat are things he just doesn’t prefer. Eating an artichoke is always a next to religious experience for me–plucking the petals of a perfectly roasted artichoke, dipping each piece into a lemon garlic sauce, and scraping the bits of meat off the ends with my eyes closed…and don’t get me started on the buttery heart (swoon!). The Mister? Well, he can take them or leave them (I act disappointed, but secretly think about all the artichoke escapades I’m going to have in the subsequent days). He also doesn’t share my affinity for eggplant, which I just love roasting in the summer and layering with squash and peppers, covered in my homemade sauce for my quinoa ratatouille lasagna. He will eat it and slightly enjoy, watching and listening as I use my fork to create the perfect bite over and over again to the soundtrack of mmmmmmm, so good!
I’ve learned in these years of happy living with my mister that there’s an art to making sure that both of us get to enjoy our favorite things, even when it might not be the other’s favorite. For me, that looks like going to see the occasional action movie, saving (some of) my commentary about how much I dislike watching sports, or marinating some chicken kabobs to throw on the grill for him to nom on when we’ve had vegetarian food most of the week. For him, it looks like helping me out on my garden projects, going on a hike, or having a good attitude about eating things on his “meh” list because he knows he’s pretty spoiled to be with someone who loves to cook. And speaking of “meh” lists, quinoa is definitely on his, which brings us to this quinoa salad and a little game I love to play with myself to take an ingredient he purportedly doesn’t like and turn it into something he noms over.
I’m always inspired by my garden, and in Colorado, my snap peas are some of my first veggies to harvest of the year. Many of them get munched on right from the plant as I work in the garden, still warm from the sun and tasting fully alive. I love how their tendrils twist and turn holding onto whatever they can grab onto in little spirals and twirls. While snacking on one of my first peas of the season, I thought back to I a springy quinoa salad I love, buried deep in my Spoon archives, which is tossed in a ginger yogurt dressing.
I wanted to create another quinoa salad dressed with a yogurt sauce, as opposed to the vinaigrettes most commonly seen in quinoa salads, and I wanted it to be full of contrasting colorful elements–purple onion, lightly pickled in lime juice and salt, the finally (almost) in-season cherry tomatoes that actually taste like cherry tomatoes, freshly-picked snap peas, blanched to bring out their crunch and vibrant green color, and a curried lime yogurt vinaigrette with ginger and fragrant garden mint, topped with toasted pistachios. I might have over achieved a bit this time–I secretly suspected there was no way the Mister could resist the charms of this salad, even full of quinoa.
Drum roll please…he LOVED it! He exclaimed between bites, “I’d eat THAT quinoa salad ANYTIME!”. I did a secret victory dance in my mind, complete with weird dance moves, a peppy soundtrack and waving flags, secretly celebrating and concocting my plan for the next installment of the game show he doesn’t even know he’s the star of. Oh, the things we do to entertain ourselves!
It’s delightful to walk through life with someone who gives and takes with you, lets you love what you love, and has a sense of humor about the never-ending discovery of new quirks. And as for the quinoa salad, if the purported quinoa-avoiding Mister raved over it, I think you will too!
I’d love to hear in the comments if you’ve made this and how it turned out for you, or any tasty adaptations you’ve made!
- For the quinoa salad:
- 1½ cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
- 3¼ cups water
- 8 ounces sugar snap peas or snow peas
- half a medium purple onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons lime juice from 1 lime
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup shelled unsalted pistachios
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes (10 ounces), halved (or quartered if large)
- For the dressing:
- ¾ cups unsweetened plain non-dairy yogurt (I like Kite Hill's almond milk yogurt)
- ¾ teaspoons curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ~2 tablespoons lime juice from 1 lime
- 1½ tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
- ½ teaspoon honey
- salt to taste, about ½-3/4 teaspoons)
- In a medium saucepan, bring the quinoa and water to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 12 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked and fluffy (the white germ ring will be visible around each grain). Spread quinoa in a thin layer on a sheet pan and allow to cool.
- Fill another medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the snap peas and cook for 30 seconds to a minute until they are bright green, and immediately drain them in a colander and rinse with very cold water until cooled (they can also be put into a bowl of ice water). Cut the peas into 1 inch pieces and set aside.
- Combine the chopped onion with 2 tablespoons lime juice and ¼ teaspoon salt. Massage the onions with your hands to rub in the salt and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
- Toast the pistachios in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Allow to cool slightly and roughly chop.
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust salt to taste.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, blanched snap peas, the purple onion mixture, pistachios (reserving some for a garnish) and cherry tomatoes, and the yogurt dressing. Add more lime juice or salt to taste if needed.
- To make the dressing