Protein-Rich Pomegranate Quinoa Salad

I recently made this dish for a Holiday potluck get-together at my house. The deep red of the pomegranate is accented so beautifully against the green of the avocado and cucumber. And hey, they’re Christmas colors! (No reason not to sneak festivity in anywhere that you can, right?)

At first, I wasn’t thrilled with the taste. Am I supposed to be saying that on my blog? I think I am supposed to be trying to convince you that it is delicious.

Well, honesty is my policy – and I wouldn’t put this up if I didn’t think it had potential. This all being said – I added a few things to the original recipe and people seemed to really enjoy the taste! (This could be due to the fact that I was pacing around shamefully in the early evening repeating “Is it good? I think I need to add something to it. I think that is what I need to do.” So I stopped whining and did something.)

ALSO – my dear friend Grace recommended Cavender’s greek seasoning as a possible successful addition to the salad. It could make it, or totally break it. Cavender’s is pretty salty. I’m actually not sure if this dish is supposed to be sweet or something else. If any of you are brave enough to tackle it and come up with a new flavor combination – holla.

Protein-Rich Pomegranate Quinoa Salad

Makes 6 to 8 servings

•3/4 cup quinoa (preferably black – I used tan)

•fresh pomegranate arils/seeds from 1 whole pomegranate

•one 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

•1/2 cup diced, seeded English cucumber

•1 avocado, diced

•2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses

•1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

•1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

•1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

•3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

•salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Set the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under cool running water.  Place in a medium saucepan with 1-1/2 cups of cold water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently until grains are tender, most of the water has been absorbed, and the quinoa has sent out little white curlicue tendrils, about 15 to 20 minutes, give or take.  Drain any remaining water and set in a wide, shallow bowl to cool completely – otherwise, everything will be a mushy mess.

Stir in the pomegranate seeds, black beans, cucumber, and avocado.  In a medium bowl, whisk the molasses, vinegars, lemon juice and olive oil, and season well with salt and pepper (I can’t stress this enough. Salt and pepper really help this dish).  Pour over the salad and stir well to coat evenly.  Sprinkle generously with additional salt to taste.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.  May be made two or three days ahead.  (For best results, add the avocado just before serving.)