Maple Dijon-Dressed Quinoa Salad with Caperberries, Olives, and Broccoli

by Sarah on August 20, 2012 · 10 comments

I’m really excited about my lunch.

You see, when Heather decided to start her Meatless Mondays, A-Z challenge , the whole idea sprung from an experience eating caperberries. Caperberries are delicious, but they are just one of the many ingredients I know that I never think to use.*

*Partially because they are expensive and often can only be found in specialty stores or for $8.99/lb. at Whole Foods. But no matter.Immediately upon reading that C is for Caperberries (not cookie, as Sesame Street might have you believe) I could think of only one thing: my first encounter of the caperberry kind in an incredible salad I had while traveling as a nanny [slash] tutor in Costa Rica, prepared for us on New Year’s Day by a chef flown in from Spain. [I know. Right?]

Because of confidentiality and the sad circumstance that most of the photos I took on that trip were with someone else’s camera–as well as the fact that this was pre-blog I wasn’t taking nearly as many pictures of food at that time— I don’t have a photo of it.

But it pretty much looked exactly like this.

lightly dressed romaine topped with broccoli, olives, sliced parmesan, and caperberries

 At least, that’s the way I remember it. :)

Those upside-down briny balloons? Those are caperberries.

According to the source of all internet knowledge (AKA Wikipedia*) the difference between the delicious capers used as salty seasoning in some of my favorite sauces (puttanesca) and condiments (caponata) and caperberries is the caper is the flower bud, while the caperberry is–as name would imply--the fruit of a fancy Latin-named plant we can refer to as the caper bush.

*Which I do, in fact, pronounce Wiki-pay-dia in my head thanks to Ted on How I Met Your MotherI knew I wanted to recreate that Costa Rica salad for this week’s A-Z challenge, but I also knew that throwing things on top of lettuce was just so typically me (oh baby, baby).* So I thought I’d change things up a bit.

*Please tell me you got that allusion. If not, Google “most amazing pop songs of 2000.”

And this is what happened.

This Maple Dijon-Dressed Quinoa Salad with Caperberries, Olives, and Broccoli is an accidental distance runner with constant cravings for brine and salt due to increased sweating who also is a teacher in back-to-school mode needing quick, easy lunches that can be served cold or at room temperature if neccesary’s dream come true.You can pretty much make up to 5 servings in about 30 minutes–depending on how fast you can chop broccoli.* Put your broccoli in a steamer, pour in water, and crank up the heat. Next, combine 1/4 cup dry quinoa and 3/4 cup water for every serving you wish to make.

*Cue Dana Carvey. [Another allusion. Google it.]

if you look carefully, you'll note the cross-contamination with the broccoli because i am too lazy to clean a second spoon

Once the quinoa is cooked, you’ll put it directly into a bowl with the dressing you’ve prepped, which is a combination of lemon juice, rice vinegar, garlic, dijon mustard, maple syrup, and tahini (light sesame) oil…which I get from the top of my tahini container.Stir up the quinoa in the dressing. Since it’s all warm and (hopefully not) fuzzy, everything should coat and combine really well.Toss in broccoli straight from the steamer–use a fork (trust me)–along with chopped black and/or green olives. [I used picholine green and wrinkly dry-cured black olives, but you can substitute whatever you like.] Sundried tomatoes are also great, or sundried tomato flakes, which are even easier. :) Add the caperberries–which are traditionally kept whole in dishes, I believe–and throw in some fresh cilantro you ‘chopped’ by ripping it off of the stem with your hands. Voila! You’re finished.Now get in the kitchen and make your co-workers jealous. [Or at least skeptically confused by the olive-like lollipops you pick out of your Tup-faux-ware tomorrow.]

Maple Dijon-Dressed Quinoa Salad with Caperberries, Olives, and Broccoli

[Serves 2. Multiply as necessary.]

For the dressing:

  • 2 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp. tahini oil
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic

For the salad:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (1/2 cup dry)
  • 2 cups steamed broccoli, chopped
  • 10-12 green and/or black olives, chopped
  • 3-6 caperberries
  • 1/8 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed
  • sundried tomato flakes (optional)

Whisk together dressing ingredients in a bowl. While quinoa is still warm, stir directly into dressing to coat. Add remaining ingredients, except caperberries and cilantro. Stir well. Top with caperberries and cilantro. Serve hot or cold.


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