Sometimes, it's the simplest combinations that become meal staples. This is one of those. Recently, I attended a work retreat event which had staff prepare and cook a meal together (think: team-building, Chopped-style) in Boston's North End neighborhood. The restaurant that held the exercise was an interesting Italian-Peruvian fusion, so in addition to pasta and red sauce, we enjoyed balsamic quinoa and chicken with sauce (the latter was served to the meat-eaters, obvi).
While I've experimented with many preparations of quinoa, I've never thought to top the pseudo-grain with balsamic vinegar. After one bite, though, I vowed that I would try my hand at the recipe in my own kitchen. The result is a simple but flavorful salad, with the addition of bright heirloom tomatoes and lightly steamed kale. Feel free to swap out the ingredients depending on the season; I think sweet potatoes and carrots would be perfect in the fall.
1. In a medium sauce pan, cook quinoa according to package instructions. When all the water has been absorbed, fluff with a fork and set aside.
2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare the tomato, nectarine, kale, and scallions. In a separate bowl, mix together the vinegar, oil, and syrup.
3. Add the tomato, nectarine, kale, and scallions to the cooked quinoa and stir to incorporate. Put the mixture over medium heat, stir, and cover until the kale has started wilting, about 3-4 minutes.
4. To serve, spoon quinoa mixture onto a serving plate and drizzle with balsamic mixture.