Sometimes a salad is just a pleasingly refreshing salad. Sometimes it's a nicely worked out nutritional package, too.
For example, take this plum and quinoa salad. Plums are at their juicy best, but they and the other ingredients offer distinct health benefits.
-Plums are rich in antioxidants, and are a source of iron, potassium and vitamin E.
-Quinoa, once a staple of the ancient Incas, is now considered the "super grain" and a complete protein, because it provides all eight essential amino acids. It also has minerals, B vitamins and fiber.
-Flax seed oil contains essential fatty acids and B vitamins.
-Walnuts are "heart healthy" with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
So how does this good dish fit into your daily menus?
It would definitely make a great carryout item, for the backyard, beach or picnics, because it's delicious both chilled and at room temperature. The original intention was for use as a side dish, but by adding some grilled chicken, it could be a wonderful entree salad, too.
Plum and Quinoa Salad
(Preparation 20 minutes, cooking time 12 to 15 minutes, chilling time 1½ hours)
1¼ cups quinoa
2½ cups water
2 large ripe plums, pitted and diced
½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped yellow bell pepper
¼ cup sliced green onions
3 tablespoons flax oil
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1½ tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon salt
Rinse quinoa and drain well. Add to boiling water; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let chill for about 30 minutes. Stir together quinoa, plums, walnuts, peppers and onions in a medium bowl. Whisk together oils, vinegar, honey and salt in a small bowl and pour over salad; toss well to coat all ingredients with dressing. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 370 cal., 23 g fat (2 g saturated), 0 g chol., 100 mg sodium, 36 g carbo., 4 g fiber, 8 g pro.