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Jewels of the Earth Quinoa Salad and POM Giveaway Winners

First of all, I want to tell you how sorry I am that I’ve taken so long to announce my POM Giveaway [1] winners!  I really and truly intended to post this several days ago.  I’ve been pushing up against a deadline on a very special freelance writing gig and all of my time and energy this week has been devoted to that.  I really can’t tell you about it yet, but it is something that I’m very excited about!  I promise to fill you in on all of the details as soon as I find out whether my article makes the cut.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who left so many great comments about your favorite ways to use pomegranates.  I was so impressed by all of your creative ideas!  But, I’m going to cut right to the chase and announce the three winners of a case of POM Wonderful [2] pomegranate juice and a copy of Nigella Christmas [3].

Okay, here it is – the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

And the winners are:

Diane{createdbydiane.blogspot.com}, Sherry and Amy S.!!!

Congrats to all three of you!  I know you’re going to have a great time using your goodies!

Please make sure that you email me with your mailing addresses so that I can get your prizes out to you.

Did I mention that how totally inspired by all of your ideas for using pomegranates?  It’s true.  In fact, I was so inspired that I decided to create another tasty pomegranate dish for you.  This time I made a Jewels of the Earth Quinoa Salad.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds.  Though not technically a grain, quinoa can substitute for nearly any grain in cooking.  Actually the seed of a leafy plant, quinoa is related to spinach, beets and Swiss chard. It has a lovely, nutty, flavor and a slightly chewy texture. Quinoa is an excellent source of protein, iron, potassium, B vitamins and other vitamins and minerals, including zinc, copper, and manganese, and magnesium, folic acid and vitamin E.  It is also high in dietary fiber and gluten free.  Most quinoa is grown in the Andes in South America, although some is now being cultivated in the Colorado Rockies as well. I am able to find quinoa at my local supermarket in the natural foods aisle.

Quinoa is cooked similarly to rice or other grains.  You need to rinse it first in a strainer or colander to remove any powdery residue.  Then, it is simmered in a bath of water or broth until tender.

I call my salad “Jewels of the Earth” because I add lots of brightly-colored vegetables, fruits and herbs to it that are first diced into small pieces.  When mixed into the quinoa, all those little bits look like tiny gems.  The vegetables, fruits and herbs are harvested from the earth – hence the name.  Even the quinoa kind of reminds me of tiny, little pearls.   (I hear you all groaning out there.  Just go with me on this one.  Okay?)

This salad is oh, so easy to make too.   I like to sauté my onions and carrots in some butter and olive oil first, and cook them with the quinoa.  I think it just brings out their sweetness a little.

Here’s how I do it…

The rest of the jewels are added after the quinoa has been cooked and cooled.  Here is a picture of all the different “jewels” I added to my salad.  Of course, you can mix it up and add anything you like.  Notice how pretty the pomegranate arils look?  I call them the rubies of this salad.  They are so delicious in it.  You should definitely always add them.

You can serve any kind of dressing with this salad, but I would recommend some kind of a vinaigrette.  A creamy dressing would just ruin the whole effect.  I usually use a good quality bottled Italian or Greek salad dressing, but this time I went all out and made a nice lemon vinaigrette.

This is really pretty, delicious and healthy salad.  It’s a perfect dish to serve on a holiday buffet as well. Just look how festive it looks!