Warm (or cold) Quinoa Papaya Salad

I remember saying, not too long ago, that papaya was going to make an appearance in my menu sometime soon… Well, soon is finally here!

Not having cooked with papaya all that often in my life, I didn’t really know what to do with it. I knew I wanted something fresh and summery, that wasn’t going to be too sweet… Of course, all things “dessert” being off limits for now, the obvious choice was some sort of salad… And since I really like the combination of quinoa with fruits and nuts, well, the choice became even more obvious. A warm quinoa salad it was going to be.

OK, so I had quinoa and I had papaya. Great. Now all that remained was to find the other ingredients that would complete the equation. The inspiration came to me, slowly but surely, and eventually got finalized as I was actually making the salad.

The result was extremely satisfying, one of my favourite quinoa salads so far. The dressing, made from papaya seeds, really brings a lot to this dish. If you’ve never tried papaya seeds, you seriously have to. Their taste is strong and peppery, it sort of reminds me of that of a radish, and they have a rather crunchy consistency. Made into a purée, they do give a lot of flavour and texture to dressings and sauces. Of course, they can also be eaten whole, especially since they are quite pleasing to the eye, all cute and tiny and black and shiny and round that they are. Try ‘em, you’ll see. You’ll thank me for that.

Ingredients
(serves 2)

Quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ tsp salt

Salad

  • ¼ cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ½ papaya, peeled, seeded and diced (save the seeds!!!)
  • 25g toasted pecans, crushed
  • 25g raw pumpkin seeds
  • 30g dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 10-12 mint leaves, chopped

Dressing

  • ¼ cup papaya seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • The juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Mustard
  • 1 tbsp Honey

Instructions

  • Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a small strainer before cooking to remove all traces of saponin.
  • Put quinoa and water in small saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. You can cook quinoa ahead of time if you’d rather use it cold.
  • While quinoa is cooking, prepare and mix all the ingredients of the salad in a large mixing bowl. Reserve.
  • In a small food processor, purée all the ingredients of the dressing and mix into reserved salad. Add quinoa, stir to combine.
  • You can serve immediately or refrigerate for a few hours, or even until the next day.

 

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