Crispy Quinoa Salad (Ensalada De Quinoa)

Crispy Quinoa Salad
To the Incas, quinoa was both sacred and sustaining. Today, contemporary cooks find its mild, nutty flavor a great alternative to rice and couscous. Peruvian chef Ricardo Zarate of Mo-Chica, known for modern interpretations of his native cuisine, elevates this once obscure superfood from basic to dinner-party-ready. Here, Zarate combines textures (both crispy fried and soft-cooked quinoa) and continents (Japanese miso and Peruvian aji amarillo [yellow chili] paste) for a dish that's simply delicioso.

Makes: 6 servings

Crispy Quinoa Salad


2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, divided (1 cup for making crispy quinoa)
3 heirloom tomatoes, cut into thick wedges
3 portobello mushrooms, quartered
3 Japanese eggplants, cut into thick slices
3 jalapeno peppers, deseeded and veined, cut into diagonal slices
12 baby green zucchini, halved
18 baby squashes, halved
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped
Sea salt
Miso-aji amarillo dressing (recipe below)
Feta cheese dressing (recipe below)
Extra virgin olive oil

Make crispy quinoa. Pour enough oil to reach 2 to 3 inches in a small (half-quart or less) pot and heat over medium-high heat until temperature reaches 400 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Using a wire mesh strainer, deep-fry 1 cup quinoa, 1/4 cup at a time. Fry each batch for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Set aside.

Crispy Quinoa Salad

Cook vegetables. Preheat a wok or large skillet until hot. Without adding any oil, stir-fry all the vegetables until cooked and nicely charred but not burnt.

Crispy Quinoa Salad

Place vegetables in a large bowl and stir in miso dressing. Toss until vegetables are well coated.

In another bowl, combine crispy quinoa, cooked quinoa and cilantro. Stir in feta dressing and season with sea salt to taste.

Mound quinoa on a plate and arrange the vegetables evenly on top. Season with sea salt to taste and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Miso-Aji Amarillo Dressing

Makes: 3 cups

1 cup white miso
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons aji amarillo paste
2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lime juice
Sea salt

Black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.

Crispy Quinoa Salad

Feta Cheese Dressing

Makes: 1 1/2 cups

1 cup (5 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons oregano
3 saltine crackers
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
Sea salt

In a blender, combine all ingredients, except oil, and blend well at high speed. Change blender speed to medium and slowly drizzle in oil until emulsified.