BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

All About Balance

32 Comments

Stress. The general public, myself included, simply oozes stress. It’s bad enough on a typical day, with the usual work- and school-related pressures, but now that it’s officially December, as of a few hours ago, the whole game has changed. For many, it’s time to go into full-out holiday madness mode, eschewing a quiet and cozy celebration for something big, perhaps a touch complicated, but above all else, labor intensive. While most of my own ideas revolve around blog posts or decorating the house, it’s slowly occurred to me that even this “simple” strategy could easily spiral out of control, threatening to eat up every spare moment up until the big day (or in my case days) to hammer out all the fine details. And boy, if you’re working on a Hannukah extravaganza, good luck; the first day will be on our doorsteps in less than two weeks. Less than two weeks! I kid you not, it’s enough to overwhelm even the calmest party planners among us. Even I’m getting a bit freaked out now, so let just take a moment to breathe, shall we?

Like my boss would say, it’s all about balance. All the rich, fatty delights of the holidays are sure to tempt at every turn, but this early in the game, they’re nothing but trouble. Pair this with the urgent need to get things done, and it’s no wonder that stress levels are through the roof! A belly full of soy nog and candy cane fudge, all one could reasonably hope to accomplish might be a sound nap, not focused worked of any sort- Trust me, I know from experience!

To dilute some of that excess holiday cheer that will be headed your way, I offer today not a sweet fix, but instead a wholesome savory dish in an attempt to balance out the treats to come. Quinoa, my favorite super grain (well seed, technically) is paired with one dynamite green spread that will definitely see many repeat performances in my kitchen from here on in. Although I’m calling it a pesto, you may notice that it is not, in fact, anything like a pest- There’s no basil or pine nuts, two ingredients I’m not wild about. You could always go the traditional route, but I think that this new interpretation is way tastier, and you may at least enjoy an occasional diversion from the old standard. Pistachios stand in for the nuts, and spinach provides the greenery here, creating an earthy but dare-I-say buttery sauce. If nothing else, make the pesto and use it in sandwiches, as a tofu marinade, over pasta, or even as a party dip!

Although I went down a more unusual route and decided to soak both the pistachios and quinoa, you could easily skip over this step to make the dish more speedy, using plain pistachios and cooked quinoa. Just be sure to cool the quinoa completely before adding in the veggies, because there’s little worse than hot cucumber!

Lean, Green Quinoa Salad

Pistachio Pesto:

1/4 Cup Pistachios, Soaked Overnight
3 Cloves Roasted Garlic
2 Tablespoons White Miso Paste
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
6 Ounces Fresh Baby Spinach
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Quinoa Salad:

1 Cup Quinoa, Soaked Overnight and Sprouted
1 English Cucumber, Diced
1 Large Red Pepper, Roasted and Diced
1 Ripe Avocado, Diced

Enoki Mushrooms (Optional)
Additional Spinach (Optional)

The pesto comes together very quickly and easily, just like any other pesto would: Toss the pistachios and garlic into your food processor or blender first, and pulse until there are no large pieces of either left. Add in the miso, nutritional yeast, and spinach. It will seem like way too much greenery, but trust me, it blends down to practically nothing. Pulse until the spinach is largely broken down, and then drizzle in the lemon juice and oil while the machine runs. Blend longer if you want a smoother sauce, or stop right here and set the pesto aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the [very well rinsed and drained] sprouted quinoa, cucumber, red pepper and avocado. If you plan on keeping this salad and serving it later, just toss the avocado pieces in lemon juice first and drain them thoroughly, to prevent them from browning. Add your pesto into the mix, and stir to evenly distribute the veggies and coat everything evenly in pesto. Top each serving with mushrooms and extra fresh spinach, if desired.

Serves 4 – 6

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

32 thoughts on “All About Balance

  1. I’ll have to try this and see how i like it, if anything it looks pretty and healthy. I haven’t really delved much into actual food cooking since I really got into cooking in October.

  2. Beautiful presentation of the dish!

    Here’s to balance in ALL aspects of life.

  3. I’ve never tried pistachios in pesto before, but I’m intrigued. I’ve played around with walnuts in place of pine nuts, as well as cilantro and parsley instead of basil… pistachios sound like a delicious replacement!

    I’m a big fan of quinoa, and am glad that this post reminded me of the delicate grain. This recipe overall sounds light & fresh – the perfect respite from heavy holiday fare!

  4. What a beautiful salad and such a great flavour combination! As usual :)

    What helps me a lot with the holiday stress is to ignore the upcoming holidays for as long as I can ;)

  5. I’d happily take this fresh dish over a heavy fat laden one any day! It looks so good!

  6. Fell in love at the first sight with this greeny salad. I love avocados, in fact I have 5 in my fridge now and I am looking for good recipes with avocado. And guess what? I found this one that appeals to me so much. Thanks very much Hannah!

  7. My heart is beating a bit faster just looking at that stunning bowl of food! This sounds incredible, just the kind of thing I’ve been looking for to jazz up my standard fare. The color in these photos is totally beautiful and the fact that you made pesto with pistachios is brilliant! Thank you for another great recipe!

  8. I love quinoa! This sounds tasty, and your pictures are too tempting!

  9. I have everything for that lovely sounding pesto except for pistachios. I wonder how this would be with cashews or pinenuts, I have both of those.

    Those mushrooms are gorgeous!

  10. What a beautiful salad and I’m really loving the pistachio pesto on it1 It’s even holiday colored :)

  11. That’s one of the prettiest things you’ve ever cooked, Hannah. Something about it, too, gives me a peaceful feeling, which I really need today. Also, the printable version is a super nice touch! I appreciate that ability, it made it so easy. I printed it out and will make it when I get out of the next flurry of loud screaming chaos that my next couple days will consist of. Happy Hanukkah.

  12. What a festive looking, fresh dish. It looks so delicious and healthy. :) I love quinoa!

  13. This would definitely get some attention placed on a table. So colorful who wouldn’t want to dig in! I like that you sprouted the quinoa too.

  14. The recipe sounds wonderful! I love all the fresh flavors and bright colors!

  15. Incredibly beautiful photos, as always! The recipe sounds so tasty as well. I’ll have to give it a try!

  16. Oh, wow… this looks diving. I’m an avocado FREAK. Unfortunately, the ones at my local market haven’t been at their peek for the last month or so… I will have to start my search for these babies again.

  17. Oh, that looks absolutely beautiful and it sounds so healthy and yummy! I love all the ingredients you used. What a great combination! Yay! Let’s breath and eat yummy salad, thanks for sharing such wonderful recipes, Hannah!

  18. This looks delicious & I adore quinoa!

  19. What a beautiful salad, ive never tasted quinoa salad before. i mite just have to experiment with it after seeing this.

    Rose

  20. Pingback: bittersweet goodness « Il Versetto

  21. I don’t think you’re capable of making anything that’s not delicious! This looks fantastic. I’m going to have to make some of this. I can’t think of a more delicious combination for pesto besides pistachios and spinach.
    Thanks for sharing :)

  22. I love quinoa! What a beautiful way to present it! I bet it’s super tasty, too, just like all the other recipes of yours that I’ve made :-)

  23. What a creative, gorgeous looking dish. The colours are beautiful! Definitely going to try this out this weekend.

  24. Hannah, I’m so looking forward to the New Year, for there’s something about new beginnings that makes me go easy, re-evaluate, re-group and forge ahead. Hmmm, first brave Xmas…

  25. You are dead on! I look forward to the holidays all year, but then they are more stressful than I remembered and go by way too fast. When it’s all over it’s kind of like being hit by a storm. Quinoa is my favorite grain (seed) too. Pretty dish!
    xo
    Eco Mama

  26. Sounds fresh and light, and the colors are perfect for Christmas time.

  27. Hi what version of WordPress are you using? I tried the snow thing on my blog but the snowflakes come out with squares around them :( I think it may be my wordpress version :(

  28. Wow I love this!! So bright and fresh and FUN!!!

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  30. This looks so yummy in the tummy. Adding it to the menu for tomorrow night’s family dinner.

  31. Love to see a raw recipe!!!

  32. Hannah this looks absolutely delicious!! This is exactly the kind of thing I love to eat! I do love my basil and pine nut pesto but this pistachio and spinach version sounds equally delicious.

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