Formula Meals: Quinoa Salad
Whip up a tasty, vegetarian quinoa salad that everyone will love! In minutes you can have a simple lunch, a quick weeknight meal, or the perfect picnic fare – no recipe required!
I’m being very efficient today by combining my monthly Recipe Redux post with a Formula Meals post! This month’s Redux theme is spring cleaning. We were challenged to go through our pantry, cupboards, freezer, or fridge and choose an ingredient, spice, or condiment that’s been hanging out for a while. Then share a healthy recipe made using this new-found pantry prize. I decided to use this theme as a way to clean out my fridge. And what better way to clean out your fridge then to make a quinoa salad?
I perfected the quinoa salad last summer when I was doing some catering for a client. I made her a different quinoa salad each week and got pretty good at it. I discovered quickly that there was a formula for creating the most delicious quinoa salad. You don’t need a recipe, but the best iterations were those that contained a few specific ingredients.
I was never a real quinoa fan before making these salads for my client. Now I know that if I have some quinoa already made in the fridge, a delicious meal is just 10 minutes away!
What’s the Formula?
1 part quinoa: I like to mix the red and white quinoa together (or buy the tricolor). To make, use one part quinoa and two parts water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 18 minutes or until the water is absorbed. I like to add lemon zest to the pot while cooking and then add a squeeze of lemon after cooking.
2 parts vegetables: here’s where you can get as creative as you want. Whatever you go with, make sure you chop into bite-sized pieces. Some ideas are: steamed asparagus, chopped cucumbers, sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped zucchini, chopped broccoli (steamed or raw), fresh/frozen corn or peas, sliced radishes, chopped bell peppers, roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower, etc.
1 part greens: the trick for adding the greens is to make sure you chop them into bite sized pieces! I love using softer greens like baby kale, spring mix, baby spinach, arugula, watercress, pea shoots, etc.
1 part fresh herbs: fresh herbs add so much flavor, don’t skip this part! Experiment with chopped basil, mint, parsley, tarragon, dill or cilantro.
1 part fruit: you can use fresh or dried fruit here. I love sliced apples, grapes, and strawberries. Dried cherries, cranberries, currants and golden raisins are fun, too!
1 part nut: Every salad needs some crunch — sliced almonds are my go-to but I also love chopped walnuts, pecans, pistachios, and hazelnuts!
Always the same: a simple dressing of 2 parts olive oil, 1 part vinegar (of your choice), salt and pepper, juice from half a lemon, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, a few drops liquid stevia or 1 tsp honey.
Other optional add-ins: black beans, chick peas or lentils are also a nice touch to any quinoa salad.
Prepare quinoa and let cool while you chop the vegetables. If using already prepared quinoa, place 1-2 cups into a large bowl. Add your chopped vegetables, greens, herbs, and fruit to the bowl. In a small Mason jar, add the dressing ingredients and shake well. Pour dressing over salad and toss well to combine. Top with nuts and serve.