Pear Quinoa Salad

We made two recipes tonight featuring cooked pears. Where we live, the Bartlett pear is king, but we like to experiment with other varieties. This salad combines diced crisp pear with the nutty texture of quinoa, the South American grain. We used red quinoa, mainly because of availability and color, but we saw the black variety at the grocery store, too.

Regardless of what it says on the package, always rinse and drain the quinoa before using it. Quinoa has a natural covering called saponin, which is bitter. Fortunately, the saponin washes off easily.

We used one d’Anjou and one Comice pear for the salad. Leave the peel on; the dice is small enough that it won’t be hard to eat, the peel is extra fiber, and the two pears will add red and green color to the salad!

You can judge the ripeness of a pear by feeling the neck (part adjacent to the stem). The neck should soften slightly as the pear ripens.

This recipe appeared in the November/December 2011 issue of Eating Well. We looked for a hyperlink, but could not find one; here’s the link to the magazine’s website.

1 14-oz. can reduced sodium vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 Tbsp walnut oil (may substitute canola oil)

1 Tbsp raspberry or pear vinegar

1/4 cup snipped fresh chives

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

2 ripe but firm pears, diced

1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans or walnuts

1. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in quinoa, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa has popped, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, whisk oil, vinegar, chives, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add pears and toss to coat.

3. Drain any excess liquid from the cooked quinoa, if necessary. Add the quinoa to the pear mixture; toss to combine. Transfer to the refrigerator to cool for about 15 minutes or serve warm. serve topped with the chopped nuts.

Makes 6-8 servings

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