Quinoa Salad

I had been wanting to make a quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) salad for a long time, but either didn’t feel like the “healthy” taste I was convinced this salad would amount to or couldn’t muster up the energy to get the ingredients. I was wrong on so many levels.

Quinoa salad is incredibly tasty and unbelievably easy. It will be a making many appearances at our dinner table. So it’s healthy, yes, but it is also a great filling grain (actually, it’s a seed, but I call it a grain) that is also gluten free. Anyone who suffers from a gluten intolerance can make this recipe in abundance. And the easy part? It cooks up in 10 to 15 minutes, you let it cool a little, add all your ingredients and there you have it: quinoa salad.

You can switch up the vegetables to use what you have on hand or work with the theme of your dinner. For example, if you are making a mexican dish, add in avocado, corn, salsa, and I’d even say black beans. Just a note, quinoa is a high protein grain, so added beans are going to give you a real protein punch. You could make the quinoa salad your meal alone. But let’s concentrate on this quinoa salad – refreshing, light, and filling with sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and cranberries. Just the thing for an almost 100 degree day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa (the pre-washed variety)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 salt
  • 1 zucchini, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 orange pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted sunflower seeds or toasted cashews (optional)

Variations: diced cucumber, celery, snow peas, shell peas, green beans, carrots peeled and sliced thin, avocado, corn, salsa, chopped scallions, raisins, apricots, Greek olives, roasted red peppers (in water or oil), minced jalapeno pepper, fresh mint, parsley, cilantro, or basil, pinch of cayenne, garlic powder, fresh minced garlic, minced fresh or dried ginger.

for the dressing

  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
Dressing variations: Brianna’s blush wine vinaigrette, italian dressing, caesar dressing, your favorite vinaigrette.
How To:
Place quinoa, water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until all water is absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes. When done, the grain will appear soft and translucent and the germ ring will be visible. Place in a mixing bowl and let cool for several minutes.
While quinoa is cooking or cooling, mix lemon juice salt and pepper, then whisk in olive oil. Set aside.
Add the rest of the ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with salad dressing and chill. Serve as a side dish or as your main meal.

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