Until recently, quinoa was an obscure and oft-mispronounced Peruvian grain found only in "hippie" grocery stores. But quinoa (keen-wah) is definitely having its moment in the sun with American diners. It's a nutritional powerhouse and makes a great addition to healthy dishes like this one. Quinoa adds a tender "bite" to a fresh salad of pear, shaved asparagus, and goat cheese tossed with bright Champagne vinaigrette. It's a plate of clean eats your taste buds will thank you for.
Peel and slice shallots as thinly as possible. Place a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and shallots to pan and spread into a single layer. Cook 15-20 minutes, stirring often, but keeping shallots in a single layer. Shallots will slowly darken to golden brown. Remove browned shallots to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Reserve pan and oil for cooking asparagus tips.
Cook the Quinoa
Bring a small pot with quinoa and 1 ½ cups water seasoned with ½ tsp. salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 15 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed. Allow to sit covered 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Set aside.
Prepare the Ingredients
Trim woody ends off asparagus. Cut top 2" off asparagus, then, using a peeler, shave asparagus stems into long, thin ribbons. Halve pear lengthwise, core each half, then cut into 1/8" slices. Coarsely chop pistachios.
Cook the Asparagus Tops
Return pan used for cooking shallots to medium-high heat. Add asparagus tops and cook 2 minutes, or until slightly tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
Make the Salad
Whisk together Champagne vinegar, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and salt and pepper (to taste) in a large mixing bowl. After the shallots have cooked, add asparagus tops and ribbons, pear, quinoa, and matchstick carrots to bowl. Toss to combine, taste, and add more salt if desired.
Plate the Dish
Divide salad between two plates. Garnish with goat cheese, pistachios, and crispy shallots.