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Summer Veggie Quinoa Salad

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Sometimes the best food comes about not through a recipe, but because you are absolutely flying by the seat of your pants and winging it with whatever you find in your fridge. In fact, I make up recipes this way often enough that our middle child refers to it as “future food.” Why future food? Because in his mind, no one has ever eaten it before, so it’s food for the future. I can’t argue with nine-year-old logic, so I just go with it.

Summer Veggie Quinoa Salad

This particular recipe came about one sunny summer afternoon when we decided to have some friends over for a bonfire. It was a last minute thing, and I didn’t have time to run to the store, so I was scouring the fridge and pantry for some things I could put together quickly. It didn’t take long to put together a veggie tray and some fresh fruit and a meat and cheese tray, but I wanted something akin to a pasta salad. I had a container of leftover quinoa in the fridge, so I figured that would be faster than boiling pasta.

Summer Veggie Quinoa Salad

A quick look through the drawers of my fridge turned up a few leftover ears of corn on the cob, half a bag of spinach, some feta cheese, and a single avocado. Paired with one of the tomatoes sitting on the counter from my garden, it made for a pretty easy (and colorful!) side dish option. While it looked pretty, it lacked a little in flavor, so I ran through some dressing options in my mind. Normally, I would have thrown together my favorite Greek vinaigrette from scratch, but I lacked a few ingredients needed for it, so I scrounged through my pantry.

Summer Veggie Quinoa Salad

Johnna and I are both in love with Aldi’s House Vinaigrette, and we tend to stockpile it whenever they actually have it in stock. I poured some of that in and stirred things up, and the flavors blended perfectly. All in all, it took less than ten minutes to throw this recipe together.

Summer Veggie Quinoa Salad

There’s plenty of room for personal taste here. I’ve thrown in diced red onion, green onion, fresh peppers, cucumber, celery, carrots and any number of other veggies over the years. I’ve also swapped out the feta for goat cheese, fresh mozzarella and several other types of cheese, or left it out altogether if I had Vegan friends coming over. Think of this more as a suggestion than a solid recipe.

Summer Veggie Quinoa Salad
A quick and easy protein-packed, gluten-free alternative to pasta salad.
Author:
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 8
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups cooked quinoa (red, white or a blend)
  • 2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2 ears cooked corn on the cob
  • 4-6oz feta cheese crumbles
  • Your favorite vinaigrette
Instructions
  1. Slice avocado and tomato into ¼ inch cubes or chunks.
  2. Cut corn off the cob, then break into bite size chunks.
  3. Add spinach, avocado, tomato, corn and cheese to quinoa and stir until combined.
  4. Add half a cup to three-quarters of a cup of dressing, according to your personal preferences.
  5. Chill for at least 30 minutes and serve cold.

 

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Vegan Tomato Avocado Quinoa Salad

DSC_0187While all three of us are foodies on some level, my food preferences tend to be a bit different from those of Ariel and Jen. [That’s because we know tofu isn’t a food. – Ariel.]  There are a few recipes however, that we all agree are fantastic. A year or so ago, I threw together a quinoa concoction with bits and pieces in my fridge, and we all fell in love with it. Since then, it’s been a regular feature in the picnics we pack to take to our favorite local winery.

In fact, those spreads probably need to be a post here someday; they are legendary.  When Jen is in charge of the food for our winery picnics, the spread is pretty darn impressive.  [This is what I do, I feed people and drink wine. – Jen]

The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity and flexibility; if there’s something you don’t like, leave it out. If there’s something you’d like to add, go for it. There is one addition my friends always make that I just can’t understand; it’s a well-known fact that I don’t like cheese, so we bring it along in a separate container, and everyone else adds it to theirs. Personally, I prefer it cheese-free. [We love you, but you’re crazy. – Jen & Ariel]

This recipe (as I eat it) is vegan (V) and gluten-free (GF). As Ariel, Jen and everyone else eats it (adding cheese), it’s gluten-free (GF) but not vegan.

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Ingredients:

2 cups cooked quinoa

2 avocados

1 package cherry tomatoes

1 red onion

1 can whole black olives

House dressing from Aldi’s (or your favorite Italian or Greek dressing)

If you’re like most people and actually like cheese, goat cheese to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Start by adding 1 cup of quinoa to your pot and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
  1. Once it’s boiling, turn it down to a simmer and set a timer for 12 min. It can take as long as 15, but I start checking it at 12 min, so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot! Trust me, it happens…I know from experience.
  1. While your quinoa is cooking, cut your avocados in half and remove the pits. Cube the avocados and place in a large bowl.
  1. Quarter all of your cherry tomatoes and add them to the bowl.
  1. Dice 1 red onion and add to the same bowl.
  1. Drain your can of olives and slice ‘em up. Dump those in the bowl.
  1. Once your quinoa is finished, put all of it in the bowl and give it all a good stir. Add your dressing to taste.
  1. This would be where if you actually like cheese, you would add it. (Personally I think it ruins a perfectly good dish but I know my friends wholeheartedly disagree with me, so I’ll leave that decision up to you.) [Mmmm…cheese…. – Ariel]

You can serve this hot or cold – both are delicious.

 

Vegan Tomato Avocado Quinoa Salad
A delightful vegan, and gluten-free quinoa salad recipe.
Author:
Serves: 2.5-3 cups
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 package cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 can whole black olives
  • House dressing from Aldi’s (or your favorite Italian or Greek dressing)
  • If you’re like most people and actually like cheese, goat cheese to taste
Instructions
  1. Start by adding 1 cup of quinoa to your pot and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Once it’s boiling, turn it down to a simmer and set a timer for 12 min. It can take as long as 15, but I start checking it at 12 min, so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot! Trust me, it happens…I know from experience.
  3. While your quinoa is cooking, cut your avocados in half and remove the pits. Cube the avocados and place in a large bowl.
  4. Quarter all of your cherry tomatoes and add them to the bowl.
  5. Dice 1 red onion and add to the same bowl.
  6. Drain your can of olives and slice ‘em up. Dump those in the bowl.
  7. Once your quinoa is finished, put all of it in the bowl and give it all a good stir. Add your dressing to taste.
  8. This would be where if you actually like cheese, you would add it. (Personally I think it ruins a perfectly good dish but I know my friends wholeheartedly disagree with me, so I’ll leave that decision up to you.) [Mmmm…cheese…. – Ariel]
  9. You can serve this hot or cold - both are delicious.

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