I was starting to think that summer was never coming to Chicago, but thankfully this weekend changed all that. Warm weather and sunshine turned up unexpectedly. So Oliver and I celebrated with a REALLY long walk that culminated in a visit to the dog park for him and later, a light and refreshing dinner for me. And since the US Highbush Blueberry Council had challenged bloggers to create a blueberry recipe, I knew I wanted to incorporate blueberries in some way. I already love cooking with them so they really didn’t need to twist my arm to participate.
My muse was one of my favorite summertime cocktails- the blueberry mojito. I turned it into a fresh and lightly sweet dressing for a quinoa salad. Made from fresh blueberries simmered in champagne vinegar and white rum and then blended with fresh mint, honey, lime juice, olive oil, mustard and a bit of water, it’s the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. It also has a gorgeous deep purple hue that lightly stains the quinoa. But best off when tossed with cooked quinoa, turkey breast, cucumber, scallion, and dried blueberries it makes for a lusciously flavored salad. Especially when topped with tangy crumbles of goat cheese and crunchy pistachios. I’m already daydreaming of leftovers.
And don’t worry if you don’t have all of these ingredients on hand because it’s quite versatile. Swap out the turkey for cooked chicken breast. Or try feta in place of goat cheese. You could even do fresh blueberries in place of dried, but double the amount and toss gently. But regardless of whether you make it as is or switch it up I couldn’t recommend this salad more highly. I’m already thinking it might be my new summer picnic favorite.
-1/4 cup champagne vinegar
-1 tablespoon white rum
-1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
-1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
-2 tablespoons honey
-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about the juice of one lime)
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
-1 tablespoon water
-Salt and pepper to taste
-2 cups cooked quinoa
-1 cup cubed roasted turkey breast (about a quarter pound)
-1 cup cubed cucumber
-2 tablespoons minced scallions (light green and white parts)
-1/4 cup dried blueberries
-1/4 cup shelled dry roasted and salted pistachios
-1/4 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer the vinegar, rum, and blueberries until the blueberries have broken down, about 7 to 8 minutes.
To a blender, add the blueberry mixture, mint leaves, honey, lime juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and water. Blend until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the quinoa through pistachios. Add the dressing, tossing gently until well combined. Gently fold in goat cheese.