Monday, August 25, 2014

Fresh Summer Quinoa

With the end of summer nearing, I've had my mind set on making a delish light summer dish using the absolutely gorgeous and tasty summer veggie selection that's available. There's nothing like biting into a fresh piece of corn that was picked that morning or slicing into a tomato you picked from your garden. So yes, there are a few moments of summer that cannot be recreated; however, we can all take a moment to enjoy the last days of summer...

Call me crazy, but at this very moment I'd like you to grab a large rimmed baking sheet and place it in your freezer, if there's no room your fridge will be just fine (trust me on this, I'll tell you more later) 

I'll admit, I'm very new to the Quinoa game, but I've discovered there are so many ways to use this wonderful protein filled grain!! You can use it for savory or sweet dishes (which I'm looking forward to trying.)  Plus this is such a perfect meal that you can make ahead for a few days.

This is my spin on my favorite classic tabbouleh/ tabbouli with a dash of inspiration from my  co-op's version, oh and oddly enough a mix of my favortite pizza toppings (feta, spinach and red onion)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1/2 -1 cup chopped spinach ( I reduced the amount of herbs to add spinach, but if you're opting out of using spinach increase the parsley to 2/3 cup)
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Cucumber, diced
1 Large Tomatoes, diced
2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 scallions, thinly sliced
3/4 C. Feta Cheese 

1 Tablespoon, minced
2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Sea Salt 
1/2 teapsoon Freshly ground black pepper

Step One:
The first thing you need to do is WASH your quinoa, this will take the overall quality and flavor from dab to fab! 

I provided a few pics below so you can tell the difference.

This was after several rinses, can you see how clear the water is now!!
Step Two: 
Cook your Quinoa adding in 1/4 t of salt. This really comes down to preference and which brand you're using. Typically it's 2 Cups water to 1 Cup quinoa, however I felt like the 2:1 ratio was a little too watery so using 1 3/4 or 1 1/2 will be fine. If you'd like to infuse the quinoa you can use any type of broth or stalk, but i'd still add at leas a 1/2 cup of water. 

Once all of the water has been absorbed ( 10-15 mins, take it off the heat, allow to cool for 5 mins and fluff with fork.

Wait! What about that chilled pan in the freezer? My friend, take it out and spread the cooling quinoa out, pop into the cooling appliance of choice (freezer/fridge 10-15 mins) and it's onto veggies!

Step Three: Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside or if your preparing this for the night before, put into the fridge.

Step Four: Dice your veggies, at this part the world is your oyster, you can cut as large or small as you like!
A few kitchen tips:
When cutting the mint or really any herb with leaves, you can pull them off the vine and slice roll jelly roll style. You can also, use scissors to chop the washed scallions.

Tip #2: Juicing made easier
If you like going old school and don't feel like taking out the juicer or like myself have yet to purchase a hand held lemon squeezer you can use a fork. First wash your lemon and with the palm of your hand roll the lemon against a counter, this will help "loosen" the juice which will make for a happy lemon! Slice and while holding the lemon take a fork with the opposite hand, turn the fork and gently squeeze!

Step Five:                            Take the quinoa out and place into a large bowl

Toss your veggies into the quinoa

As you're tossing in the veggies slowly drizzle the dressing into the salad. If you're making this a day ahead, you can store the dressing for up to 24 hours in the fridge.

The recipe called for 1/2 cup of Olive Oil, but for my personal preference it seemed like alot so I used about 1/4 c. But add as little or as much as you'd like.


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