Last weekend I made quiche for a brunch and while it was good, it wasn't great; the recipe needed work. But then when I thought about the stick of butter that was used in the crust, and the 12 ounces of heavy cream that were used in the custard, not to mention the cheese that was stirred into the custard, it occured to me that perfecting a quiche recipe is not the way to go at all. Better to work on perfecting a salad -- a salad so good that you crave it.
Also, a salad that you can take to work for lunch, preferably one that you can make beforehand and happily eat for a day -- or two or three. My rate of packing a lunch for work becomes much higher if I'm not making a salad each day. This was my lunch for three days this week and it held up suprisingly well.
Mango is the star of this salad as far as I'm concerned. Quinoa in of itself wouldn't hold my interest but makes an excellent foil for the mango and spicy dressing. Watercress has a peppery leaf which also adds an element of contrast. Watercress's other virtue is that the sturdy leaf holds up so well. Four days after it was made the leaves were not at all wilted. I don't tear or cut the leaves either which I think helps in preventing wilting.
Roasting the peppers for this is a step I skipped because it would have increased the preparation time and roasting peppers is a pain. However, roasted peppers absorb the dressing better. On the other hand, unroasted peppers add a nice crunch.
The recipe is adapted from Raising the Salad Bar and the original recipe used chickpeas rather than quinoa. Raising the Salad Bar is a terrific book full of excellent inspiration. As I leaf through it I find myself drawn to almost every recipe.
Quinoa, Watercress and Mango Salad with Lime-Curry Vinaigrette
1 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly if not using pre-rinsed quinoa
1 mango, diced
1 red pepper, roasted, seeded, ribs removed, and diced (or skip the roasting)
1 bunch watercress, stems removed
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar
4 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and pepper
1. Whisk the vinaigrette ingedients together and set aside
2. Put quinoa, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover pan and cook for 13 to 15 minutes, until water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit until it has cooled completely.
3. Toss the quinoa with enough dressing to moisten. Taste for salt and add if needed. Add the watercress, mango, and peppers and toss, adding enough additional dressing to lightly coat. Grind a little black pepper over all, taste again for seasoning. Serve.