Quinoa salad is the best thing to happen to my creative faculties in the past decade. I have so much fun mixing up veggies and quinoa, pouring honey-lemon vinaigrette over it all, and then eating the results.
I usually make a huge batch to share, and then if people don’t grab any that first day, I am very selfish about the leftovers.
Replace Tomatoes with Strawberries
I decided to try something new for May and June and I would like to invite you to join me. While local strawberries are in season, try substituting them for fresh tomatoes in your salads and primaveras.
Just try them once, in a tossed salad.
No sugar, let them be tart if that is their mood.
I guarantee you will start seeing salad differently when you can make that leap.
Road Trip 2011
I made this strawberry zucchini quinoa salad for Road Trip 2011, a three hour trip my family made to Ghent, NY to see my cousin and his wife perform in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown at The Ghent Playhouse. We had a great time.
This is not the proper forum to review the play, but if you live anywhere near Ghent, you should check out this theater and the wonderful entertainment they provide. I know I am biased, but I have a feeling Mark Schane-Lydon’s star is rising and I may not have so many small town opportunities to connect with him in the coming years.
On this trip I also had an opportunity to learn where to buy quinoa in Ghent, NY (2 miles up the road in Chatham, actually), so the day was a perfect win for me.
- Reunited with extended family. What a blast, I have the coolest relations.
- Enjoyed a fantastic musical in an intimate setting. These players are tops!
- Listened to Ellen DeGeneris on the journey.
- Made a kickass quinoa salad.
- Brought home leftovers of said salad.
- Added another page to Where to Buy Quinoa site.
Back to the Salad
I had planned to do a variation of Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad using butternut squash, but my son objected to the butternut, so I started with carrots instead. I tossed them in with the quinoa to cook for about twelve minutes. At that point, I stirred in the zucchini and yellow squash and let the whole thing steep off the burner for about three minutes. I then transferred to a glass dish and put it in the fridge for the next morning.
In the morning, I added strawberries, green pepper, celery, onions, walnuts, cilantro, and dressing. Chucked it all in the cooler and we were good to go.
Let me tell you, this salad only got better as time went on. Yumtastic.
Strawberry Zucchini Quinoa Salad
1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed – white is fine with all these vibrant veggies
1¼ cup baby carrots in ½ inch chunks
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ginger
1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise and sliced in thin half moons
1 small yellow, summer, or crook neck squash, thinly sliced half moons as well.
½ cup chopped sweet onion
1¼ cup celery cut in ½ inch chunks
¼ cup green bell pepper
1 cup sliced strawberries
½ cup walnuts
¼ cup minced cilantro
I cooked the quinoa and carrots the night before with the salt and ginger. I didn’t have any ginger root so I used the spice. I kind of blanched the squashes to bring out their color by adding them to the hot quinoa after twelve minutes of cooking, and then letting the saucepan sit off the heat for a few minutes.
I put the quinoa and veggies in the refrigerator overnight to cool, though this isn’t necessary if you prefer to mix everything together at one time. Just set the quinoa aside to cool while you finish prepping your vegetables.
I cut large chunks of celery to add substance to the salad. I could have skipped the onions, especially since I had celery, but I love sweet onions in a salad.
To finish this off I made a honey-lemon vinaigrette:
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup rice vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
a dash of salt
I skipped the pepper to try something a little less spicy this time.
I whisked this all together and poured over the salad. At this point, the salad is ready to eat or you can let the flavors blend for a couple of hours before serving as I did.
The salad is tart and sweet. The celery is crunchy and the squashes are crisp. The walnuts and strawberries add depth and interest making each bite taste a little different than the last.
Unfortunately, I was in such a hurry to get on the road that morning, that I didn’t get any pretty pictures while the salad was fresh.
All I have is the view at the top of the page of the leftovers the following day.
Here is a photo of a beautiful (and delicious) strawberry bread pudding I made today.
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