Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pizza-Inspired Salad

A healthy salad inspired by pizza? Strange concept I know, but true. The other night I was having dinner with friends at an Italian pizza place here in Galway, called Milano's. My favourite pizza was one my friend got, featuring rocket (which I think is also known as aragula?), proscuitto, walnuts and maple syrup. That alone may not have been enough to convince me to combine those flavours as something else, but that week I also tried a recipe that I found online for spinach and parmesan quinoa, which I ended up not really liking at all. The problem, I think, was that the spinach was added to the hot quinoa and allowed to wilt and cook, which to me made it taste sort of bitter. So I thought, how could I change that recipe to better fit my tastes? Well, by letting the quinoa cool and making a salad of course. But just spinach would be boring. Why not add rocket, toasted walnuts and crispy maple-syrup bacon? Now that sounds like a good salad. Plus some shaved parmesan, in addition to the grated parmesan stirred into the quinoa.

Quinoa, Bacon, Walnut Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water with 1 cube chicken stock crumbled in
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 rashers maple-smoked bacon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
200 grams fresh baby spinach (a few handfuls)
100 grams fresh rocket (a couple of handfuls)
1/4 cup shaved parmesa

Cook the quinoa in the dilute chicken stock until all the liquid has been absorbed, then add the grated parmesan and stir through. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool (with the lid on so that it absorbs any last moisture).

Slice the bacon into small pieces and chop the walnuts up. Place both in a frying pan with the maple syrup and fry until the bacon is done to you liking.

To assemble, wash the salad leaves and place in a large bowl. Add the quinoa, walnuts and bacon and toss through lightly. Then sprinkle on the shaved parmesan.

If you like your salad to have more dressing than I do, combine 1/4 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup white wine vinegar and a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup - whisk it together well and drizzle over as needed.

 (divided into 4 servings, approximately 350 calories each)

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