TWO'S COMPANY: Asparagus, smoked salmon and quinoa salad

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You've no doubt read that whole grains are good for you. But you also know that whole grains usually take longer to cook than their refined counterparts.

However, you can have the health benefits of whole grains and the convenience of refined grains if you cook in bulk.

Although cooking ingredients in large quantities runs counter to the Two's Company philosophy, it's a sound strategy when you're preparing grains such as brown rice or barley. Either grain can be cooked and refrigerated up to a week or frozen for six months, according to food safety experts.

Even though quinoa is faster cooking than brown rice or barley, it requires time-consuming, thorough rinsing. Make enough quinoa for two meals and you can eliminate the step the second time around, if you like. Refrigerate plain cooked quinoa up to four days; freeze it several months.

For freezing, spoon the cooked grain in 1- or 2-cup amounts into small containers so you have enough for one meal. That way you're not defrosting more than you need.

When you're making a soup or stew, you can add the frozen cooked grain directly to the pot without defrosting. For a side dish or salad, thaw the grain in a microwave oven before using.

In the following recipe, quinoa is matched with asparagus and smoked salmon for an elegant entree salad. To prepare enough quinoa to make this dish again and again, double or triple the grain and the water.

Asparagus, Smoked Salmon and Quinoa Salad

Makes 2 servings.

Preparation time: 10minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

1⁄2 cup quinoa

3 tablespoons thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes

1⁄2 pound fresh thin asparagus

21⁄2 tablespoons olive oil, divided



1 small jalapeno chili, cored, seeded and minced

1 scallion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 ounces smoked salmon, cut into bite-size pieces

Lemon wedges

Place quinoa in fine-mesh sieve. Hold under cold running water until water runs clear. Drain. Place quinoa in small pot. Add 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 16 to 20 minutes or until quinoa skins burst and water is absorbed. Fluff up quinoa with fork. Set aside to cool, fluffing occasionally.

Meanwhile cover tomatoes with boiling water. Set aside 10 minutes. Drain well.

While quinoa is cooking snap tough ends off asparagus. Place asparagus in small roasting pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast in preheated 425-degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove. Cut asparagus into bite-size pieces.

To assemble, spoon quinoa into large serving bowl. Add dried tomatoes, asparagus, chili and scallion. Toss gently but well. Stir together lemon juice and remaining 11⁄2 tablespoons oil. Pour over salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange smoked salmon over salad. Garnish with lemon wedges.

Serve at room temperature.

Each serving (without added salt) has: 380 calories; 21 grams total fat; 13.l5 grams protein; 38 grams carbohydrates; 6.5 milligrams cholesterol; 630 milligrams sodium and 4 grams dietary fiber.


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