I’m a huge wimp when it comes to temperatures that rise above 80 degrees. Makes me tired and cranky. Therefore, I love to have delicious summer salads in the fridge when it’s hot outside. The last thing I want to do is cook anything in the heat of the day – even grilling sometimes requires more energy than I’m willing to expend. This quinoa salad is perfect because it’s a meal in itself. Sure, you could serve it alongside grilled fish or chicken and a slice of crusty bread would be lovely with it. But, if you want a meat-free, gluten-free, veggie rich meal with plenty of protein and fiber, this salad satisfies on its own.
Let’s talk a bit about quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). I know many of you are already quite familiar with it so you can ignore this part if you wish to. Quinoa is used like a grain but is actually a seed. It is cooked similar to rice and has a soft/crunchy texture with a bit of a nutty flavor. I will admit, I was not a huge fan when I first tried it. It was kind of bitter and I just didn’t enjoy it that much. Once I played around with it, though, I found I really liked it as long as I added big flavor. The health benefits are amazing. One cup, cooked, has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber as well as many other important vitamins and minerals. It is actually considered a complete protein because it has all 9 essential amino acids required as building blocks for muscles. That said, you’ll find it’s also more expensive than most rice or pasta, on average just under $1 per serving. I think it’s worth it, though, when you consider that it can be a complete meal.
Always rinse quinoa thoroughly (even it says it’s pre-rinsed) to remove any bitter flavor.
For this salad, I’ve used 1 cup uncooked quinoa. Once rinsed, place in a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups liquid (water, chicken stock, vegetable stock). Bring to a boil over med-high heat. Boil 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Cover for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare veggies and place in a large bowl.