Curried Quinoa Salad with Cucumber-Mint Raita

First recipe on the new blog! Woo! Good times. I figured tonight's dinner was as worthy of a blog post as any, so why not start off with it? This is a great and very different recipe from the most recent issue of Cooking Light, a magazine that often frustrates me (some months it contains very few vegetarian recipes). But this one was kind of fun.

It's the kind of grain/vegetable salad, served at room temperature, that I'm so drawn to during hot summer weather. It has a nice savory-sweet balance: the curried quinoa is salty and spicy, mango and currants add sweetness, and celery provides just the right amount of crunch. A minty raita ties it all together.

This is a great vegetarian meal because quinoa has lots of protein. In fact, it's a "complete" protein, meaning that it has pretty much all the amino acids that people need. If you haven't tried it, you should -- it's a delightfully chewy little grain.

Curried Quinoa Salad with Cucumber-Mint Raita
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 diced peeled mango
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons dried currants (*note: you can find these near the raisins in the grocery store)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced peeled cucumber
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 six-ounce carton plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 five-ounce package fresh baby spinach
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add curry powder and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add quinoa and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10-15 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in salt. Cool completely.

Add mango, diced celery, scallions, chopped cilantro, and currants to cooled quinoa; toss gently.

Combine cucumber, mint, and yogurt in a small bowl, and stir well. Divide spinach evenly among 4 plates, and top each serving with about 1 and 1/4 cup quinoa mixture and about 2-3 tablespoons raita.