Monday, April 22, 2013

Veggie Quinoa Salad With Citrus-Basil Dressing

Full of protein--and delicious flavors!
I’m sure you’ve noticed but quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is all the rage these days. This little protein-packed, gluten-free wonder is a big hit with health food nuts and regular Joes alike. Why? Because it’s so versatile. I’ve used it in everything from Pizza Bites to breakfast casseroles. Not only is it easy to make, it’s good for you too. And in my book, that’s a win-win.

I saw this recipe on Pinterest (of course!) and thought it sounded too yummy not to replicate. I put my own spin on it by omitting the corn, adding lime juice and pepper to the dressing, and using more basil than the original dish called for. I just love fresh basil. I couldn’t help myself.
Here’s what I came up with.

Veggie Quinoa Salad With Citrus-Basil Dressing
Serves 4
1 cup quinoa, uncooked (I used the tri-color one from Trader Joes)
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup bell pepper, chopped (I used orange)
1 cup green onion, sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine garbanzo beans, tomatoes, bell pepper, and green onion. Stir in quinoa once it has cooled to room temperature.

Place olive oil, lime and lemon juice, basil, and a dash of freshly ground black pepper in a food processor or blender and process until all the large basil leaves are chopped.
Pour dressing over veggies and quinoa and stir well to coat. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour and serve cold.

Cooking Tip:
If you know you want to serve this salad cold, you can always make the quinoa ahead of time and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.
As I’m sitting here typing up this blog post I seriously want to make this salad again. It’s so tangy, fresh, and delicious I can almost taste it now. (Can you tell I’m hungry?) This is one of my favorite dishes I’ve made recently. I love that it calls for fresh, healthy ingredients and that it only takes about 20 minutes to whip up (not including cooling time). I made this for lunch and ate the first round room temperature. It was great but I have to be honest, I preferred it cold for leftovers the next day. In fact, I liked it so much, I had it three days in a row. And that’s saying something because I get bored with food pretty quickly.

With all the protein from the quinoa and beans, this dish works as a standalone meal but it’s also a nice side for chicken, beef, fish…pretty much anything. Because quinoa is actually a seed, it’s gluten-free. You’ll note the absence of dairy and meat in this recipe so this salad is vegetarian and vegan, too.  And for those of you thinking, “This sounds too healthy to actually taste good.” I promise it is delicious.
So if you are in the mood for a little tangy, fresh, veggie-filled dish, give this one a try. You—and your taste buds—won’t be sorry.

Until next time,

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