Asparagus, Avocado, Basil Salad

My friend Christina brought this salad to a party last weekend and I begged for the recipe.  It’s just so good!  She made the paleo diet version (no quinoa), but I added the quinoa to make it a bit more substantial (for a light lunch)– either way it’s quite tasty.



  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch (or so) pieces
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/3 cup quinoa (optional)
  • mint leaves, handful (optional)


  1. Cook the quinoa as per package directions (I like the pasta-type method, pot of boiling water, 15 minutes, drain and done).  Set aside to cool (spread on a baking sheet).
  2. Steam asparagus for 5 to 7 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Mix together in a large bowl all the ingredients.  Enjoy!

Brown Rice and Quinoa

plateI originally found this recipe on 101 Cookbooks (a trusted source for healthy, hearty grain dishes) and when I realized that Heidi Swanson was actually sharing a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe (the author of one of my favorite cookbooks Jerusalem) I was completely sold.  I was planning a dinner party for two good friends and I wanted a side that was more than simply a filling starch.  This recipe is layered with flavor, easy to make ahead of time (although, alas, I was still working on it after my friends’ arrival), and will be a dish that I frequently return to (everyone had seconds).  With a little doctoring, this recipe could become a main course.

Note: I took a few liberties from the original recipe.   The original is linked above, the version below is what I made using ingredients that were already on hand in my kitchen.  I also reversed the colors; Ottolenghi’s recipe calls for red rice and white quinoa, but as my local supermarket (a little shop in Queens that barely fits the width of a cart) did not carry red rice, I substituted brown rice and replaced the quinoa with the red variety.

Ingredients, serves a large dinner party (about 10 people)

  • 1 cup red quinoa, cooked (you can make this in advance)
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked (you can make this in advance)
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, toasted, chopped (next time I think I will increase the quantity of pistachios; I really enjoy nuts in my savory dishes)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (white is recommended, I used yellow because that is what I had)
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • about 2/3 cup olive oil
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 2 handfuls arugula (I almost skipped this, don’t! it pairs brilliantly)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the rice and quinoa according to the directions on the packaging.  Lay out the cooked grains on two baking sheets to allow them to cool and dry a bit.  If using brown rice, remember that it takes awhile to cook, about 40 minutes, so consider your timing in advance.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the pistachios (I do this in a dry frying pan over low heat, rattling the pan frequently, but you could also do it in a toaster oven or on a baking sheet in the oven).  Once cooled, chop the nuts.
  3. Saute the onion, shallot, and garlic in about 4 Tbsp of olive oil until golden brown.
  4. Toss everything together including the remaining olive oil, adding the arugula last, and serve at room temperature.

Sweet Quinoa Breakfast

This sweet coconutty breakfast is a new favorite of mine and good for you, too!

Ingredients for one serving

  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk (or regular coconut milk)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of honey (use your judgment, it depends on how sweet you want it)
  • slivered almonds, a healthy palmful, toasted
  • 1 Tbsp shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 tsp sesame seeds (optional)


  1. In a small sauce pan, combine the quinoa and coconut milk.  Bring a  boil, cover, lower heat, and simmer for about 12 minutes (closer to fifteen if you double the recipe).  Check occasionally, when nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed, it’s done.
  2. Meanwhile on a small pan toast the almonds, coconut, and sesame seeds over a low heat, shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning and to ensure that everything toasts evenly.
  3. Add the honey and cinnamon to the cooked quinoa, mix in the toasted ingredients and enjoy.


Why is this healthy?

  • Quinoa is a resistant starch which means it stays with you longer and makes you feel fuller.  Resistant starches are also good for your colon.  Additionally, quinoa is packed with vitamin B, vitamin E, and antioxidants.  It is also gluten-free.
  • Cinnamon, even less then a teaspoon, improves how your body handles sugar by turning on your insulin receptors.
  • Almonds are high in antioxidants, have vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Coconut flakes are a good source of protein, fiber, iron, and zinc.