Chipotle-Avocado Quinoa Salad

I was very ambitious for Friday night dinner last week: I made this quinoa salad, plus tempeh mole with braised string beans and mashed sweet potatoes, plus serving the more usual potato kugel, schnitzel, stuffed cabbage, white rice and star-shaped ptitim (starch, meat, meat, starch, starch).

My husband loved the quinoa salad, hinting it would make a great lunch to take to work. The delicately tinted green dressing tastes as rich as if it was made with lots of oil or mayonnaise, but most of the richness comes from the avocado.

quinoa salad with avocado dressing

salad made with red quinoa

The dressing, incidentally, is wonderful as a salad dressing (think avocado Caesar salad and use Romaine lettuce, with grape tomatoes and some croutons or tortilla chips).

The salad is adapted from a gourmet vegan restaurant, Candle 79, where it is served as an appetizer. The Candle 79  Cookbook says to serve the salad in avocado halves, drizzled with extra dressing, and garnished with thinly sliced radishes and hemp seeds. Instead of individually plating it like that, I served it from a salad bowl, and added in some grape tomatoes. I also served tortilla chips with this, which adds a little crunch.

Chipotle-Avocado Quinoa Salad
Adapted from the Candle 79 Cookbook. The original recipe calls for combining 4 cups of quinoa pilaf (another recipe in the book) with the dressing. I mixed a whole recipe of the pilaf without measuring how much it was. The recipe is supposed to serve 8 as a starter or 4 as an entree.

Chipotle-Avocado Dressing:
4 Tbl. olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots (I used scallions and skipped the sauteeing part; UPDATE: I used sauteed shallots the second time)
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (I had to leave this out because my husband dislikes cilantro, but a fresh herb is nice here)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder (I used half this amount, or maybe even less; Update: I tried this recipe again with a 1/4-1/2 tsp chipotle sauce)
2 guajillo peppers, chopped (I left this out, but added in maybe half a hot pepper, seeded and deveined; Update: use 1 Tbl. chopped jalapeno)
3 Tbl. white wine vinegar (I used the juice of a lemon plus 1 Tbl. vinegar; Update: I tried this recipe again with juice 1 lime, plus 1 tsp vinegar)
1 cup water (I left this out)
1 tsp. sea salt (I think I salted to taste)

Saute the shallots in oil until softened (I skipped this, adding raw chopped scallion and the olive oil; Update: I tried sauteeing the second time I made this recipe). Combine the shallots (or, scallions and oil) with the rest of the ingredients in a blender (I used a food processor). I left out the water because I was using a lot of lemon juice and because I wanted a thick dressing, but you can always thin as desired with water. (I thinned it when I used leftover dressing on lettuce)

Quinoa-Vegetable Pilaf
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa (rinsed and drained)
2 Tbl. olive oil
1/2 tsp.  sea salt, plus more to taste
1 Tbl. parsley (I left this out)
1 cup cooked fresh corn (I used canned corn)
1 red bell pepper, cut in small dice
1/2 cup finely diced carrot
1 bunch scallions (about 5), chopped
[Note: I made this the second time with some garlic added in when sauteeing the vegetables; 1 minced clove]
[Note: add 1-2 cups grape tomatoes after mixing in everything else when using pilaf as a salad.]

Add the rinsed and drained quinoa, plus a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp. of oil, to 2 cups of boiling water. Simmer the pot of quinoa, uncovered, for ten minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover the pot and let it sit off heat for ten minutes. (I didn’t use this method; I just followed the instructions of the bag of quinoa, which call for simmering, covered, for about 15 minutes). Stir in the parsley (I skipped this.)

Meanwhile, in a saute pan, saute the vegetables in oil with 1/2 tsp. salt until the vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Add the scallions and saute another couple of minutes. (I didn’t do this either; I just added the chopped vegetables to the warm quinoa. If I was serving this warm as a pilaf, I would saute the vegetables, plus I would season it more strongly with salt and pepper; UPDATE: I made this recipe again and sauteed the vegetables.) Toss the vegetables with the quinoa and serve warm or room temperature as a plain pilaf if you don’t want to make it into the salad with the avocado dressing.

To make the salad, combine half the dressing with 4 cups of the pilaf (I used whole recipe). I also added in a pint of grape tomatoes. The original recipe says to serve the salad over avocado halves nestled on top of  salad greens (8 ounces), garnished with hemp seeds and sliced radishes:

4 radishes, thinly sliced
8 ounces salad greens
4 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled
1/4 cup hemp seeds (according to the cupcake project these taste like a cross between pine nuts and walnuts; I just left them out, but the salad really could use a nut or seed for some crunch, either pine nuts or maybe sunflower seeds or pepitas).

Alternate Dressing: The second time that I made this salad, I made an avocado tomatillo Sauce which I adapted from the same cookbook. I served this sauce along with the avocado sauce with the salad. This sauce is also good as a green salsa sauce with tortilla chips.

Roasted Tomatillo Avocado Sauce
Adapted from the Candle 79 Cookbook.
5 large tomatillos, each about the size of a plum tomato or a medium tomato “on the vine” (original cookbook called for 2 cups)
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined to reduce heat and then chopped
1/2 cup cilantro (I left out because my husband dislikes cilantro)
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, chopped
1 cup water (I skipped because I don’t think it is necessary)
salt, to taste (original recipe called for 1 Tbl., which seems excessive)

Roast the tomatillos for 15-25 minutes at 400 degrees (original recipe said 15 minutes at 350 degrees). Cool the roasted tomatillos. Puree the tomatillos with the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste with salt.

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2 Responses to “Chipotle-Avocado Quinoa Salad”

  1. Leora Says:

    Looks quite tasty! All that creaminess is from the avocado? Nice. I can understand why your husband would want to take this to work.

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