Now that warmer weather has finally come our way, I find myself craving fresh bright salads for dinner. I don’t know about you, but I can’t often satisfy myself with just greens. I’d have to eat a mountain to be full and it wouldn’t really be a nutritionally complete meal. That’s why I’ve been toying with mixing grains into my salads.
Quinoa has become a household favorite just about any time we have avocados around. It was created one night when I knew I couldn’t handle “cooking” anything for dinner. Most of the effort in this dish comes from a little bit of chopping. All told, you can prepare everything while the quinoa cooks and it shouldn’t take much more than 5 minutes to put together, other than cooking the quinoa itself.
What little effort you put in is well rewarded with a salad that packs a zesty flavor along with a good amount of healthy protein, fats, iron, fiber and carbohydrates.
Recipe: Zesty Avocado Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 avocados (1.5 cups), chopped
- 1/4 cup pepperoncini, minced
- 1 cup arugula, mizuna or other bitter green, roughly chopped, torn, or left whole
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- teaspoon dried tarragon (optional)
- splash of pepperoncini brine
- splash of good olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Many packages say to rinse the quinoa before cooking, but I generally skip. Either I’ve come to like to taste of saponin on the outside of the grain or the kind I buy is pre-rinsed, but I don’t care for the hassle of rinsing the tiny little things. If you prefer to rinse before cooking, by all means, do so. Just be careful as the light little grains have a tendency to fly everywhere. Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water in a rice cooker, or in a small pot. If cooking in a pot, bring to a boil, stir, and then lower and allow to cook until the water is gone and the germ (a white little curly-Q) separates from the rest of the grain. Allow to cool.
- While the quinoa is cooking (or cooling, if you’ve cooked it in advance), chop up all the vegetables that need chopping and add them a large salad bowl with all of the juices and seasonings.
- Add the quinoa, stir well. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Enjoy cool or warm. This will also taste great the next day, when the flavors have really soaked into every tiny quinoa grain.
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About this author: I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin. Read more from this author...