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Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad

AICR Test Kitchen Stap logoQuinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is an ancient grain (technically not a grain, but is used as a grain) from South America that’s gluten-free and higher in protein than most grains. Quinoa tends to absorb the flavors of ingredients around it, making it an excellent base for this dish.

Pomegranate seeds add bright color and a delightful crunch to this salad. The fruit is full of vitamin C and health-promoting polyphenols and flavonoids and ranks high for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Laboratory evidence shows that substances, called urolithins, that our body produces from pomegranates' compounds can decrease prostate cancer cell growth and ability to spread.

This salad is a cancer-prevention powerhouse. Try it with half a cup of cooked cannellini beans for added protein.

Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad with Asparagus and Walnuts

  • 2/3 cup quinoa (makes about 2 cups cooked)
  • 2/3 lb. asparagus
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dill
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions, green part only, optional
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice from Meyer lemons *(alternatively 1/4 cup lemon, 1/4 cup orange juice)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds, divided (use 1 large pomegranate)

Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad Cook quinoa according to package directions. Drain and cool.

Steam whole asparagus for 3 minutes or until bright green. Remove from pan immediately, drain, and let rest on plate with ice cubes. Slice diagonally into 1/4-inch pieces.

In large bowl, combine quinoa, asparagus, carrots, parsley, mint, dill, walnuts, and cilantro and scallions if using.

In a separate bowl mix olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss with quinoa mixture and then add 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds.

Serve as is for buffet or plate each serving over 1 cup baby lettuces. Garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds.

Makes 8 servings

Per serving: 145 calories, 7 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 20 g carbohydrate,
4 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 165 mg sodium.

How to Seed a Pomegranate

Pomegranates are generally available August through December.

 Select a large pomegranate that feels weighty – ideally you can feel the seeds bursting out of the skin.  The skin should appear shiny and smooth. Keep refrigerated till ready to use. Note: A large pomegranate offers about one cup of seeds.

 To remove the seeds:

  1. Fill large bowl with very cold water.
  2. Slice the pomegranate in half and insert both halves in the cold water. Let sit 5 minutes.
  3. With your hands immersed in the water, gently pry out seeds with your fingers, so rind floats and seeds sink to bottom. Remove membranes and discard. Drain pomegranate seeds and store in airtight container.

If you're concerned about staining, start by scooping seeds and membranes out with a tablespoon. Gently move spoon against inside of pomegranate. This leaves a bit less mess on your hands when you separate seeds.

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