Japanese-flavored Springtime Quinoa Salad

I made this salad a couple of weeks ago after seeing something very similar on the internet somewhere; unfortunately I can’t find the post despite an awful lot of searching. Anyway, it was awesome because usually when I make quinoa, Mark puts five grains – I’m not kidding, five grains – of it on his plate for his serving, because I yell at him if he doesn’t take any, but he gobbled up an entire bowl of this with nary a complaint. In fact, he discovered this spring that he loves fresh fava beans, which I’ve included in the salad, and he therefore sang its praises.

Japanese-flavored Springtime Quinoa Salad

1 cup red quinoa (or any quinoa), rinsed
2 cups water or broth
as many fresh fava bean pods as you can stand to shell – try to do about a pound because they yield a tiny fraction of their weight in actual beans
1/4 cup ponzu (a Japanese soy-citrus sauce available in Asian markets)
2 sheets toasted nori, ripped into pieces (also available in Asian markets)
1 avocado, chopped
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Put the quinoa and water or broth into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until quinoa is cooked. If necessary, drain off remaining liquid. Return to the pot, cover, and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring another pot of water to boil. While it’s coming to a boil, remove the fava beans from their pods. When the water is boiling, put the beans in and let boil for 30-60 seconds. Drain and immediately plunge the beans into an ice water bath. When cool, pop them out of their skins – I stick my thumbnail into the skin to make a hole, then pop them out. When the favas are peeled, hit a small amount of oil in a small skillet, then saute the favas with a little salt, until they are cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.

Stir the ponzu into the quinoa. Toss in the favas, avocado, and nori. Serve with lemon wedges. Feel virtuous eating it.

And now a wildlife update. Whenever I send my parents a link to a batch of pictures, if there is a snake in any of them, my mother always responds, “Gross, a snake!”. If she ever ran across one in her travels, I imagine she’d very quickly head in the opposite direction. When I, on the other hand, see a snake, I calmly toss my bag on the ground five feet away, switch lenses, and stick my camera in its face. Look at this handsome little fella! Well, maybe not so little – this is a black rat snake, one of the largest in this area.

I love trying to capture them with their tongues out.

I wouldn’t say my mother-in-law is overly fond of snakes either. When she spotted this snake in her yard last week, she rushed into the house to identify whether or not is was poisonous. Meanwhile I rushed up to the snake with my camera! It’s an Eastern garter snake. Not only is it not poisonous, but my mother-in-law decided I had actually made it look “cute” in my picture!

Speaking of my mother-in-law, as some of you may know, she lives in Charleston, SC, so obviously if I was lurking around with the snakes in her backyard, Mark and I were in Charleston ourselves last week. We were preparing for the beautiful wedding of Mark’s lovely cousin, so we didn’t have time for our usual sightseeing, but we spent a lot of time in the park with the dog and for the wedding. Here is an infrared shot of a wonderful oak that’s in the park.

Last night was yet another time I wandered off to Occoquan Bay NWR more for exercise than pictures. I’ve learned my lesson, though, and always take the big camera and the big lens just in case. I was also extremely glad I thought to pack my macro lens, which garnered me those rat snake pictures above (and some even more exciting ones below), but the telephoto came in handy for the obligatory osprey shot.

And guess what! I got another turkey picture! Just prior to sunset is the time to find them, apparently.

The absolute best, though, was…the beavers! Because these are my first beaver pictures ever!

I’ve only ever seen the very quick blur of a beaver once last summer, but last night I was very lucky. I guess I approached the creek so quietly (and I was literally the only person in the park at the time) they didn’t notice me at first and I was able to watch a couple of beavers actually working on their dam. They are so cute and funny! For several minutes, they seemed totally cool with me – and this picture was taken with my macro lens; he’s only about six feet from me. After a while, though, they got nervous and started going away. One of them was under water and surfaced right in front of me, saw me, freaked the hell out, and ducked back into the water so fast I started laughing out loud. I didn’t mean to scare him, but the look on his face was priceless. Wish I’d been able to get a picture of THAT. Once he booked it out of there, that was the end of the beaver show, but I was giddy. Is it weird that just seeing animals makes me ridiculously happy? Like, I can truly say that getting to see beavers was the best part of my day and probably my week.

I never get out that place having done any actual exercising, by the way. I mean, I get exercise from the walking, but basically I’m meandering slowly with a probably beatific look on my face taking a bunch of pictures.


  1. Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy Said,

    May 16, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

    what a gorgeous dish! i love the color!! and ahh!! a snake!! i would have freaked out! haha

  2. kittee Said,

    May 17, 2013 @ 12:44 am

    I love your posts so much Renae!
    That Live Oak reminded me of New Orleans and the snakes are just awesome. We once caught a ginormous ol’ black snake in our garage. I remember my dad saying they’re not venomous, but they give nasty bites. I found a wee little garter or something like that at the dog park a few months ago, and your post reminded me of it! I caught it and threw it over the fence, I didn’t want any of the dogs to find it.


  3. Mr. W Said,

    May 17, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

    Hi Renae,

    I’m always up for an internet search challenge! Could your lost recipe be this one? CHINA FORBES QUINOA WITH AVOCADO (China Forbes is apparently the lead singer of the band Pink Martini (per a commenter on Mark Bittman’s NYT article on homemade ponzu).

    Here are a couple of links to the recipe:

    Here’s a link to the NYT article, you’ll have to omit the bonito flakes, and scroll down to see the comment on China Forbes. (I think Yuzu is better in ponzu if you have a Japanese market nearby, fwiw).

    Also, snakes ARE much cuter when sticking their tongue out in a time-frozen picture!

    Take care!
    Mr. W

  4. renae Said,

    May 17, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

    Why, yes, Mr. W, that IS the original recipe (which I see I managed to copy almost exactly), though some other blogger must have made it a few weeks ago because neither link is the one I read. He or she had mentioned the singer of some band but I couldn’t remember that either. So thank you for allowing me to get some of the credit for the recipe up here!

    I’ll also have to see if Super H has yuzu the next time I’m there so I can try making my own ponzu.

  5. Alexis Said,

    May 18, 2013 @ 11:25 am

    Hah, I just came to post the same thing, but different URL:


    After Tea wrote about it, I was obsessed with that salad for a while, even ate it for breakfast a few times. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

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