Quinoa-asparagus salad a source of high energy
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Tuesday, 14 May 2013 08:47
PERRYSBURG - Angela Conti-Smith works as a hairstylist.
|Salon owner Greg Hazelton and Angela Conti-Smith with quinoa asparagus salad and copies of Earth Month Cookbook, which is being sold to benefit the Alliance for the Great Lakes. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
In fact, that's been her job for the last two decades. "I've been at Salon Hazelton 21 years," ever since she graduated from beauty school in Toledo.
Lately, though, many of the West Indiana Avenue salon's employees are doubling as cooking experts of sorts as the business has released the second edition of its popular Earth Month Cookbook.
The new cookbook offers over 160 favorite recipes from both clients and employees, Conti-Smith among them.
Today, she's sharing the recipe for her spring-into-summer quinoa asparagus salad, one of her personal favorites in the book.
"My boss made it and he doesn't cook at all, so it's super easy," she said.
"I love it because it's quinoa - and quinoa is the power food. It's high in protein, low in fat.
"Quinoa is a healthy grain, and a great alternative to other grains or something like couscous. It's a perfect balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein."
Look for the recipe on page 22 of the cookbook.
Others of her submissions for the book include lasagna soup, "one of my most popular recipes, and my salsa is also very popular."
But it's that quinoa-asparagus salad she really wants to talk about today.
"It's great to use if you're athletic, and looking for a great food to fuel your body."
She enjoys the flavor of the salad even aside from its health attributes.
"It's a really nice, light salad - a light vinaigrette. I love the other flavors in it, too. The goat cheese, the red wine. It has a lot of complex flavors, but it's super simple to make."
It's also very versatile.
"It can be used as a light lunch on its own, or as a salad course.
"It's also great for a potluck," Conti-Smith said. "You can make it ahead of time" because quinoa refrigerates well.
Thus, it's a good choice for a busy person, which certainly describes Conti-Smith.
Besides her main salon job, she's also been a Pilates teacher at St. Julian's Fitness Center in Bowling Green for about the past four years.
She and her husband, Craig Smith, have a son, 12, and a daughter, 8.
For all these reasons, Conti-Smith is devoted to healthy eating.
But it was just about a year ago that she discovered a personally compelling reason to favor the quinoa asparagus salad.
"I've been gluten-free for about a year" because "I just found out I was gluten-intolerant" and the salad is a gluten-free dish.
She'd always experienced stomach pain but just figured it was something she had to live with.
It wasn't until she opted to go on a diet "to get ready for my 40th birthday trip" that she discovered the gluten intolerance by accident.
"I cut out all the carbs" as a weight-loss measure. "All I ate was like lean proteins, vegetables and fruit. And the stomach pain stopped. It was pretty crazy."
Her doctor helped her rule out any other possible reasons for such a happy development.
She's since found other benefits to her no-gluten diet; "The fatigue, all that stuff is gone."
The Earth Month Cookbook is still available at the salon, for $17.95.
QUINOA ASPARAGUS SALAD (Gluten Free)
¼ c. red wine vinegar ½ c. olive oil
1 T. honey Kosher salt and freshly ground
1 T. mustard black pepper
Combine the vinegar, honey and mustard in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste and pulse a few times to incorporate.
4 c. salted water or vegetable Kosher salt and freshly ground stock
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme 1 c. pitted black olives
2 c. quinoa 4 oz. aged goat cheese, shaved
16 spears asparagus, trimmed ¼ c. chopped fresh basil
Olive oil, for brushing ¼ c. fresh parsley leaves
Bring the salted water or vegetable stock to a boil and add the thyme. Stir in the quinoa, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Preheat the grill. Brush the asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on all sides until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the grill and cut into ½-inch pieces. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl, fold in the asparagus, olives, goat cheese, basil, and parsley. Add just enough vinaigrette to moisten the salad; don’t make it too wet. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with more of the vinaigrette.