Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Quinoa Salad

Lately I've been experimenting a lot with fresh and filling summer salad recipes, and this one has quickly become a favorite. I love quinoa because it's healthy, hearty and filling but still satisfies my cravings for delicious, delicious carbs. I love this salad because the dressing & veggies marry together so nicely to create a tangy punch of flavor in every bite. Added bonus: it's totally vegan, which is just nice in case you ever need a vegan option at your summer barbecue.

Summer Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 lemon
2 T olive oil
1 large clove garlic
tomatoes - I use about 6 - 7 cherry tomatoes or 2 romas or 1 big beefsteak
1 avocado
1 can sliced black olives
handful of parsley OR cilantro
1/4 c chopped red onion
1/4 c chopped roasted red pepper
1 cucumber
salt & pepper to taste

Pour quinoa & water into a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, cover, and let simmer until quinoa has "bursted" and is tender to eat, about 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Mix dressing: Squeeze out the juice of one lemon, throw in a healthy pinch of kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, and grate or press in a clove of garlic. Whisk in the olive oil. It's about 2 Tablespoons, but do a little at a time until it tastes like it's balanced out the tang of the lemon juice without getting too oily. I will usually just mix my dressing in the big bowl I'm going to put the salad in so I don't dirty up too many dishes.

Dice up your cucumber nice & small--I reserve about 1/3 of my cucumber dices to feed Duncan as a healthy snack, but you should feel free to chuck the whole thing in there. Chop up your red onion, roasted red pepper, avocado & parsley/cilantro, add them to the bowl. Again, I just put them in with the finished dressing. Depending on what kind of tomatoes you're using, dice 'em up, throw 'em in. (If I'm using cherry tomatoes I'll just quarter them.) Drain your olives and add them too.

Now, at this stage, your quinoa may or may not still be warm. I'm usually so hungry that I throw the warm quinoa into the bowl, mix it up & eat. Mac, however, prefers this salad when it's all totally cooled. I leave it up to you. Either way, combine the quinoa with the veggies and dressing, salt & pepper the whole thing to taste, and serve. This will feed four - five hungry people if it's the only thing they're eating, and obviously more if it's a side dish. If it's just for you, it will keep for a couple days--the lemon juice in the dressing helps keep the avocado green.

Final note: I would have posted a picture of this pretty salad, but it literally got eaten too fast and I missed my chance. Next time!