06/27/2012 02:39 EDT | Updated 08/27/2012 05:12 EDT

Quinoa and asparagus salad can be a main dish or a side with meat or fish

Quinoa, native to South America, is combined with grilled vegetables in this easy-to-prepare salad bursting with refreshing flavour. This vegetarian salad is a great option for brunch and outdoor celebrations, as a main-dish salad or as a side salad to accompany grilled meat, chicken or fish.

Quinoa Asparagus Salad

250 ml (1 cup) quinoa, rinsed

500 g (1 lb) asparagus, trimmed

1 greenhouse sweet pepper (any colour), seeded and quartered

1 large onion, cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch) thick slices

30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil

1 can (540 ml/19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped flat-leaf parsley

5 ml (1 tsp) grated orange rind

50 ml (1/4 cup) orange juice

15 ml (1 tbsp) liquid honey

15 ml (1 tbsp) each red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard

1 small clove garlic, finely minced

1 ml (1/4 tsp) each salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and 500 ml (2 cups) water to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes until most of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Place in a serving bowl; let cool.

Meanwhile, place asparagus, sweet pepper and onion on a rimmed baking sheet; brush with 15 ml (1 tbsp) of the oil. Place vegetables directly on greased grill over medium-high heat; close lid and grill, turning occasionally, until tender-crisp and lightly marked, 5 to 10 minutes, transferring back to baking sheet as they are done. Let cool slightly. Cut into bite-size pieces, stir into quinoa along with chickpeas and parsley.

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining oil, orange rind and juice, honey, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper; pour over quinoa mixture and toss to coat. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Tips: For a Brazilian flair, substitute black beans for chickpeas. For a Chilean twist, use cilantro instead of parsley.

Nutrition information per serving when recipe serves 8: 226 calories; 9 g protein; 6 g fat; 36 g carbohydrate; 5 g fibre.

Source: Foodland Ontario.