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Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer Quinoa Salad with Basil & Lemon Vinaigrette

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I mentioned recently that my brother is in town for the summer and these last few weeks have been particularly fun. I don’t know when and if I’ll ever have so much uninterrupted time with Quinn so I am trying to soak up every single minute. He’s actually staying at my sister’s house, but we all (Ryan, Quinn, my sister Julia, and her fiancĂ© Nate) are spending several evenings a week together, eating dinner in the backyard, walking to Ted Drewes, and just hanging out. All that’s missing is our baby sister Renatta! We’re laughing a ton and managing not to get on each others nerves, an impressive feat considering that we’ve all spent more than 20 hours in a car together making trips to and from Chicago a few times!

The night I made this quinoa salad, Quinn popped over for dinner. I gave him a bowl of this along with his French Dip sandwich (recipe coming soon!) and he asked me why I was feeding him braces rubber bands. I had to laugh—he’s so right that the little quinoa tails look like the rubber bands you used to get at the orthodontist! Despite this, he loved the salad—even moreso when I told him that quinoa is high in protein.
 I had figured I’d have most of the salad to myself for lunches that week, but he and Ryan both surprised me by how much they dug this salad. I certainly don’t blame them—I loved all of the fresh produce in there. You could easily add goat cheese and/or pecans as well, two additions that would only make it more delicious! The dressing isn’t particularly noticeable, so if you prefer it heavily dressed, I recommend doubling the batch and adding to taste. This obviously didn’t matter to either of the boys, who finished off the large batch in two days!

One Year Ago: Frittata with Chard, Sausage, and Feta
Two Years Ago: Cranberry Nectarine Salad

Summer Quinoa Salad with Basil & Lemon Vinaigrette
from High Desert Farmers Market
-1 cup quinoa
-2 cups water
-1 pint blueberries
-1 1/2 cups diced strawberries
-1/2 cup dried cranberries
-2 cucumbers, peeled, insides scraped with a spoon to remove seeds, and diced
-6 large carrots, shredded
-2-3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped finely
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-juice from 1 lemon (potentially more, to taste)
-zest from 1 lemon
-salt & pepper, to taste
-1/4 cup Basil leaves, chopped finely

1. To make the quinoa, rinse quinoa and add to a medium sized saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, cover, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, until water is nearly gone. Remove lid, fluff quinoa with a fork, and allow to come to room temperature.
2. In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, cucumbers, carrots, and mint. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add additional lemon juice if desired.
3. Fold quinoa into fruit and veggie mixture, stirring to combine well. Add dressing and gently mix. Fold in chopped basil. If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate.