This year, I started thinking about Thanksgiving much earlier than usual. The reason for this forethought was my fear of copious amounts of butter, cream and other equally indulgent ingredients that are staples in most holiday recipes. Ironically, last year at this time, I was about to graduate from culinary school and never thought twice about the amount of full fat dairy products that went into my recipes. Well, that was one year and 25 pounds ago. While I still plan to have a taste of everything on the holiday table this year, I wanted to add a dish that reflects my new healthier cooking style. My fall harvest quinoa combines wonderful holiday flavors in a lower fat and protein packed dish. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be served warm as a side dish, or made ahead and served cold or at room temperature as a salad. I plan on serving the quinoa on a bed of baby spinach and perhaps adding in some fresh orange slices to dress it up for it's Thanksgiving debut.
Fall Harvest Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
Zest and juice of one orange
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
4 scallions, chopped
½ cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover and lower heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until water is absorbed.
Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the orange zest, orange juice, olive oil and thyme leaves.
Combine cooked quinoa, vinaigrette and remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Quinoa may be enjoyed warm, room temperature or cold.