Makes 4 cups
Todd: Even though quinoa is a South American grain, we love to use it as you would Mediterranean grains, like farro or couscous. It’s a grain that you don’t see enough of on menus and tables in my opinion. It has a wonderful, nutty taste and it is gluten free, which is something for which we are getting more and more requests at our restaurants. The red wine vinaigrette (store any extra in the fridge; it will last for weeks and is good to have on hand for quick salads) complements the sweetness of the figs, a favorite fruit of mine from my Italian cooking background.
12 dried figs
2 cups quinoa
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise including part of the green (2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon salt
Sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
Soak the figs. Place the figs in a medium heatproof bowl. Add boiling water to cover; set aside until plump.
Cook the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa in water and drain. Combine the quinoa and stock in a medium saucepan. Bring to boiling over high heat; lower the heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed—about 30 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.
Mix the salad. Drain the figs in a colander; transfer to a cutting board and cut into quarters. Pour ½ cup of the Red Wine Vinaigrette over the quinoa and toss to mix. Add the figs, pine nuts, scallions, mint, lemon zest, salt, and pepper; toss to mix. Taste the salad and add more salt or pepper if you wish.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
Place 3/4 cup reduced red wine, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 large egg yolk, 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard, and 1 1/2 teaspoons honey in a blender. Pulse to combine and then slowly drizzle in 1 cup canola oil and 1 cup olive oil, pulsing every so often to combine; run the blender for 30 seconds to fully emulsify. Transfer to a storage jar; season with salt and pepper to taste. (This vinaigrette will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator.)