Quinoa Salad in Endive Cups

by Kris on March 26, 2012

I’ve recently decided to remove all dairy products from my diet. My reasons are a little different than you may expect. I’ve suffered from inner ear issues for several years now, and have not only seen numerous doctors, but I’ve also tried many forms of medication. Nothing to date has helped this issue.

The other night I watched a documentary called Forks over Knives. It was an interesting documentary that discussed how animal based diets can be bad for your health. I’m a strong believer that any diet should contain many sources of nutrients. I also believe that you can lead a healthy lifestyle if you just practice moderation. A burger once a month probably won’t kill you, but one every night probably will.

The part that interested me the most in this documentary was an interview with a UFC fighter. He claimed to have had inner ear issues for years and after many misdiagnosis’s he discovered the cause was a dairy allergy. My ear is a constant distraction in my life, so I decided trying a dairy free diet couldn’t hurt.

I am currently on day four, and so far so good. It’s too early to tell if it is having an effect on my ear but since I’ve begun this experiment my symptoms aren’t nearly as bad as they’ve been in the past.

Cutting dairy out of my diet has also meant I’ve had to be a little more creative with my meals. This quinoa salad is a direct result of that. So many great fruits and vegetables are appearing at our farmer’s market, it’s just so easy to create exciting salads for dinner. This one combines some of my favorite flavors, and I love how they look served in endives. This would not only be great for a healthy meal, but also a great appetizer at your next party.

Do you have any tips on dairy free diets? Or do you, or someone you know, have a dairy allergy? I’d love to hear from you!

Quinoa Salad in Endive Cups

  • 1 cup asparagus, finely chopped
  • 3 Belgian endives, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. pine nuts
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (tips on cooking quinoa below)
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • ¼ cup arugula, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup radishes, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup pear, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill

Preheat oven to 400.

In a medium bowl, combine chopped asparagus, one shredded endive, minced garlic, one tablespoon of lemon juice, and one tablespoon of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to a roasting pan or skillet and bake for 7-9 minutes until vegetables are tender. Let cool.

In the meantime, prepare the endive bowls by peeling the leaves off the remaining two Belgian endives. Place on a serving tray and set aside.

In a small skillet, toast pine nuts over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned. Set aside.

In a small bowl, create the dressing by combining remaining lemon juice and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl toss together quinoa, poppy seeds, arugula, radishes, pear, dill, and roasted asparagus with the prepared dressing.

Place one to two tablespoons of the salad on the reserved endive leaves. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate until cool.

Serves between 8-10 as an appetizer

How to Prepare Quinoa:

Cooking quinoa is quite simple and only has a few extra steps than preparing rice.

If you are using pre-rinsed quinoa, it will make your life a little easier. If not, for best results soak the quinoa for a minimum of 15 minutes. Using a fine sieve, rinse the quinoa for an additional 2-3 minutes prior to cooking. This removes a lot of bitterness from the grain.

For every 1 cup of quinoa, use 1 ¼ cup of liquid.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

To maintain the right consistency in leftover quinoa, it helps to let it cool completely before refrigerating. I often will make a large batch and use it throughout the week for breakfast, salads or even in baked goods. The method I find works the best for cooling large amounts of quinoa is to spread it evenly on a cookie sheet and leave on the counter for 30-35 minutes. I will then transfer it to a sealed container in the fridge.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Priyanka March 26, 2012 at 5:58 am

I have never tried quinoa as its not available here. But I love ur presentation and the fresh look of the salad

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Kris March 26, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Thank you! You could replace the quinoa with any grain of your choice. I think it would work well with couscous or even farro.

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pre March 26, 2012 at 11:21 am

thanks for the quinoa detail. this is one of those things that everyine says – It’s so easy make
But there are always learned tricks and I have yet to make a really sucessful batch. looking forward to trying again :)

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Kris March 26, 2012 at 10:48 pm

The first few times I made quinoa, I wasn’t all that impressed. After some research and experimenting I found this cooking method worked the best. Good luck! Let me know how it works for you.

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Brit March 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I have a love/hate relationship with quinoa – sometimes it comes out SO mushy. But it doesn’t change the fact that it is delicious and awesome. Good for you for cutting out dairy, btw – that is no easy task! I really hope you see results.

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Kris March 26, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Thanks so much Brit! I hope to see results as well. So far so good. Crossing my fingers!

Next time you make quinoa try soaking it and using the 1 cup of quinoa to 1 ¼ cup of liquid ratio. I’ve found this helps the consistency.

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Vicky March 26, 2012 at 2:39 pm

This sounds delicious. I too have watched Forks over Knives and have seriously tried to decrease the amount of animal products in my diet. After watching that documentary I don’t think I’ll ever crave a burger again. I’ve been trying to cook with quinoa more especially since I have read about all the various health benefits. Will have to try this!

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Kris March 26, 2012 at 10:56 pm

It’s definitely an interesting documentary. I do think a lot of us consume way too many animal products. Even just cutting down will not only do your body good, but the environment too! Personally, I love the challenge of making a meal that does not revolve around meat. Quinoa is such a great grain because it has both protein and iron. Definitely important for a vegetarian lifestyle. Hope you enjoy!

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jen p March 26, 2012 at 10:09 pm

My younger brother had severe ear infections as a kid due to a dairy allergy! I started eating vegan a little over a year ago to help with other issues, and I’ve seen improvements in every area of my health. Giving up dairy may seem difficult at first, but the juice is definitely worth the squeeze! Hang in there! Don’t be afraid to try recipes using nutritional yeast. It sounds like a super hippie ingredient, but the results are delicious. I guess my best advice is not to be afraid of trying new ingredients, or using ingredients you’re already familiar with in new ways. For example- hummus mixed with a splash of pasta water makes a great stand in for creamy alfredo sauce. And when you crave ice cream, my favorite nondairy treat is coconut milk-based ice cream by Ciao Bella. We’re so lucky to have a variety of dairy alternatives widely available, and to have great bloggers to share recipes!

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Kris March 26, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Thank you so much for the advice Jen! I’ve heard from a few people who also had severe ear infections from a dairy allergy. When I was a kid I had so many ear infections, I wonder if the cause was an undiagnosed dairy allergy. It’s definitely encouraging to hear that you’ve seen improvements in your health. So far the switch hasn’t been so bad, although I do miss cheese. I actually bought some nutritional yeast tonight. Can’t wait to start experimenting with it. I love a challenge and trying new foods, so in many ways it’s been pretty fun! Great tip on the alfredo sauce! I would have never of thought of that. Also, coconut milk ice cream is the best!! The variety of vegan friendly products have grown so much since I first experimented with veganism in high school. I think it’s a good sign that many people are trying to reduce their intake of animal based products. Thanks for sharing!

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The Culinary Chase March 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm

First time to your site and love it! I made this salad and love all the favors and textures. thanks for sharing. Cheers!

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Kris March 29, 2012 at 11:36 am

Welcome aboard! So glad you enjoyed the salad!

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Annie March 27, 2012 at 7:49 pm

These sound so, so yummy! I have a dear friend who had no hearing in one ear (from birth) who began to lose the hearing in her only ear about 20 years ago. After no amount of medication helped, she began to follow a vegan, mostly raw diet. Much to the surprise of her doctors, the hearing in her only ear improved, she lost a good bit of weight and continues to this day to be healthy, happy, and hearing. Good luck!

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Kris March 29, 2012 at 11:35 am

Wow, what an inspiring story Annie! It’s amazing what a healthy diet can do for your health. It’s been almost a week now and my symptoms have been much milder, some days even non existent. Crossing my fingers that this continues!

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Larzi May 19, 2012 at 10:40 am

I’m allergic to dairy, have been all my life. I can eat a little bit of cheese now though. but mum used to say dairy was bad for the ears. I always thought it was an old wive’s tale. Then I got an ear infection that hurt worse than anything. I was almost immobilised. but cutting out all dairy (i.e. that tiny bit of cheese and anything else that snuck dairy into its ingredients!!). I took lots of vitamin C & D and it really helped.
Also I’m vegetarian and I used to use Tofu or mushrooms instead of cheese. don;t miss it at all. You can get soy cheese now- I can eat pizza again!!
My friends little girl just had grommets put in her ears, and she has dairy about 3-4 times a day. I wonder if there’s a connection!

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