Sesame-Honey Quinoa and Carrot Salad with Sliced Avocado

Carrot quinoa saladMy family is going to South Africa in one week. My mother is taking us (and my sister’s family), a trip born of a “life is short, let’s not put off things we are dying to do” moment that we all experienced after my father died a little over a year ago. Carpe freaking diem.

We’re all completely excited. I have done next to nothing thus far in terms of preparation.   My sister, however, has packed practice bags to make sure she knows how much she can bring and stick to the weight limits of the small planes we’ll fly in. She and her family have made power point presentations for each country we are visiting and quizzed each other on the various gross national products of each locale. And she has looked up the high and low temperatures for each destination, and shared them with us so we can prepare accordingly. I love her. But I also kind of hate her a little right now.

So here’s what I do before a big trip: Cook down my refrigerator and freezer! I take a somewhat unholy pleasure in trying to use up everything remotely perishable in my house, and leaving behind an almost empty fridge and pared down freezer. And because I’m doing some work with GE (also exciting), I have a crazy fabulous refrigerator that holds a lot, and so my work is cut out for me, but in a very good way.

Watch out carrots! I see you scallions! Don’t think you’re going to waste, fresh mint! This week takes my leftover game to new heights. I did a substantial grocery run today (pork loin, ground chicken, chicken breasts), and the fridge is pretty full, but if I can get through the next 7 days without another real supermarket run, I will have accomplished my little self-set goal. The tricky part is that I also have several people coming to dinner over the course this week. The goal: to make dinners that don’t have people leaving thinking, “Wow, she must have been desperate to use up that arugula….”

Now where is that prescription for malaria pills….

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

5 scallions, minced

1 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups grated carrots

1 avocado, halved and thinly sliced

  1. In a medium sized saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallions and sauté for 5 minutes until tender. Add the water, turn the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed, 10 to 14 minutes. Uncover and let come to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, in a blender or a food processor puree the rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, remaining tablespoon olive oil, soy sauce, mint, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Place the cooled quinoa in a bowl, and add the carrots and the dressing and toss to thoroughly combine. Turn it into a shallow serving bowl and arrange the avocado attractively on the top. An extra drizzle of olive oil and a bit more salt and pepper is nice.close up carrot quinoa salad

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