Spring Quinoa Salad with edible flowers

25 May

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Spring has sprung in New York City, and there is so much to eat!

Yesterday was my last “composting and healthy snacks” session for seniors with mild memory loss, in conjunction with The Memory Tree Program, Teachers College, and the Morningside Gardens Co-op. Read more about our first session and our Earl Grey Spiced Fruit Compote here.

The Memory Tree is New York City’s first program devoted to people with mild memory loss, and their family and caregivers.

This was the end (for now!) of a series of “Going Greener” workshops, continuing a previous project about nutrition, cooking, and farmer’s markets. The “Going Greener” project came about as a way to learn how to keep the world healthy, focusing specifically on composting and easy snacks. 

The series comprised 5 sessions, with each session consisting of a compost component, a media workshop, and a healthy snack and drink. Each week, we gave the seniors digital cameras to use so that they could document the colorful snacks and activities. We also made little youtube videos with the photographs. Check out some of the fun videos on our channel.

My main role was to find and/or develop our recipes, purchase the ingredients, and gather the necessary kitchen tools and gadgets . In other words, I was the official “Recipe Consultant.”

These were the 5 snacks and drinks:

1. Earl Grey Spiced Fruit Compote with Lemony Water

2. Carrot and Hummus “Sushi Sandwiches” with Cucumber “Spa Water”

3. Peanut Butter Oat Snack Bites with Minted Ice Cubes and Earl Grey Ice Tea

4. Mud Pudding aka Chocolate Tofu Pudding with Strawberries and Seltzer

5. Spring Quinoa Salad with Edible Flowers, Hummus Feta Toasts with Pansies, Blueberry Frozen Yogurt Bites, and Sparkling Cider

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Edible flowers are fun to eat and beautiful to photograph, so we planted nasturtium seeds with the intention of eating them at the final session. I took a few seeds home to plant, too! If you have never tasted an edible flower, the flavor and texture are similar to a slightly peppery lettuce leaf.

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The final snack (it was more of a meal this time) was a Spring Quinoa Salad. All of the veggies were from the greenmarket: radishes (did you know radishes have about as much or more potassium as a banana?!), ramps, asparagus, and baby lettuces. We also found an assortment of edible flowers: broccoli rabe flowers, radish flowers, and arugula flowers.

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We chopped the radishes and ramps, and shaved the asparagus into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Then we tossed everything together with the quinoa, added crumbled feta cheese, lemon zest, and lemon juice. We scooped the quinoa onto a nice bed of lettuces and delicately topped everything with nasturtium.

We also sliced into a baguette, spread the bread rounds with hummus, and sprinkled feta and edible pansies over the top. The pansies were from a plant we bought at the greenmarket.Who knew you could eat pansies?

Before every snack or meal, we all would set the table and clink our glasses together, toasting to good food and good company. Cheers! And don’t forget to compost the food scraps.

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I didn’t get a picture of our blueberry frozen yogurt bites, but they were so easy and so good. I got inspired after seeing this recipe.

Also, if you are looking for more fun, spring veggie talk, check out this episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Spilled Milk Podcast. They talk about ramps, fiddleheads, pea shoots, and nettles.

And for more spring quinoa inspiration, check out Megan’s post on Elevating Lunch.

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Spring Salad with Edible Flowers

Quinoa is full of good-for-you protein and fiber, and it cooks in just minutes. Throw in some seasonal veggies and creamy cheese, and delicately dot with fresh herbs and nasturtium for a picture perfect spring salad! 

*This recipe is very much to your own taste. Once you have your quinoa base, throw in the suggested add-ins as you like! 

serves 4

1 cup quinoa

Seasonal veggies i.e. asparagus (shaved into ribbons), ramps or spring onions, radishes, baby lettuces…

Feta or soft goat cheese (about 2 oz. or so)

Edible flowers i.e. nasturtium, pansies, or broccoli rabe flowers/arugula flowers/radish flowers

Lemon, zest and juice

  • Rinse the quinoa and drain it. Cook the quinoa in a saucepan (2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa) for about 15 minutes or until cooked and fluffy. Put aside.
  • Chop the seasonal veggies into small pieces. If using, shave asparagus with a vegetable peeler (that way you can enjoy it raw).
  • Crumble the cheese.
  • Zest the lemon.
  • In a bowl, combine the cooked and cooled quinoa, the chopped veggies, the crumbled cheese, and the lemon zest. Squeeze lemon juice over the top and toss to combine.
  • Delicately place the edible flowers on top and serve!
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