Orange Quinoa with Almonds, Olives, and Feta
January 26, 2011
Santa gave me my first lesson in eating with the season. Each year, nestled deep in the toe of my gargantuan knit stocking, I would find an orange. First I would be disappointed- all that valuable stocking space used up by something destined for the communal fruit basket! Then I would be perplexed. Why an orange? Sure, I liked oranges, but they were nowhere near my favorite. Why not a juicy peach? Strawberries? Papaya? Sweet watermelon? OK, I understand why Santa couldn’t put a watermelon in my stocking. Still, it never occurred to me that he was simply offering the sweetest treat that winter had to offer. Though we had an orange tree in our backyard, it had not fully dawned on me that oranges are a winter fruit. Vibrant, sweet, and juicy citrus is ripe for the offering right at the time when Santa swings through town.
Now I know about this winter delight, as do my children. We have a Satsuma mandarin tree along our house. We also have strawberries to mark the spring, raspberries that begin to bear in early summer, peaches, apples, and finally figs take us through the fall. We can tell the time of year from our little urban lot and our fruit trees. I won’t claim my kids do not ask for plums in the dead of winter, but they understand better than I did, what it means when I say plums are a summer fruit.
This year we have a remarkable crop on this little Satsuma Mandarin tree. The fruit, for the most part, survived the frequent freezes of December strung with lights and a haphazard wrap of frost cloth for warmth. We pick them and eat them on site scattering the peels around the yard or add their sweet juice to smoothies. I have been searching for more ways to make use of these fruits in our diet and off our tree.
Orange Quinoa with Almonds, Olives, and Feta features the satsumas with both the diced fruit and zest being tossed throughout. The sweet-tart citrus pairs nicely with the salty olive and the nutty almond. The feta adds a bit of tangy creaminess. The cauliflower quite frankly is optional. It doesn’t really add anything to the overall experience of the dish, but it is a good way to add some veggies. There is so much interest with the other ingredients that you will not really notice it’s there (unless you are four years old and have x-ray cauliflower vision). I last served this dish with grilled chicken and a big green salad. Enjoy.
Orange Quinoa Salad with Almonds, Olives, and Feta
serves 6 as a side dish
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly with water. Place quinoa in pot. Add water and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes or so until the water is absorbed. Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and allow to cool.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 cup cauliflower florets, chopped small
1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add cauliflower and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute 3 minutes or until cauliflower begins to soften. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Cook until cauliflower is soft, but still has some bite to it, 7-10 minutes.
Putting it together
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta
zest from one satuma
3 satsumas, segmented and diced (other type of orange would be ok here too!)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped
Toss cooled quinoa, cauliflower mixture, and remaining ingredients together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with grilled meats or on its own as a light lunch.
Note: This dish can be made 1 day ahead. If making in advance, reserve the satsuma and feta and add at the last moment.
Here is a printer-friendly version of this recipe:
You may also like: