Thursday, April 26, 2012

A South American Inspired Salad - Lovely Weekend Lunch

Over the weekend I had time to make a recipe that I learned after going to a FREE cooking class at the Denver Library.  It was all about South American street foods, and one of the recipes was a quinoa salad.  It was SO DELICIOUS and I had to share it with you!  I added a few additions of my own, just to make it even more fun. :) 

Super Quinoa Salad
Serves about 4-5 

1 cup quinoa (cooked - in the end should equal about 2-3 cups total)
3 scallions (chopped)
1/2 a jalapeno (minced)
1 cucumber (skin removed, diced into small chunks)
1 tomato (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 avocado (diced)
2 handfuls of arugula (or fresh spinach)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (or lime)
Olive oil (about 2 tbsp, plus some extra for drizzling)
About 1/2 a cup of crumbled Queso Fresca (or you can use Feta cheese, but I really liked the mild taste of the Queso Fresca. You can find it in the refrigerated section where other Mexican foods are kept.)
Dill (about 1-2 tbsp, fresh or dried)
Salt & pepper to taste
Siryacha hot sauce (optional)

To cook the quinoa, soak in 2 cups of water for about 15-minutes (covered).  Slowly bring it to a boil, and let simmer for about 15-minutes until all of the water is absorbed.  Place quinoa in a bowl, and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the meal (preferably let cool for about 30 minutes to an hour).

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, dill, lemon or lime juice, and some salt & pepper.  Whisk together and set aside.

Cut up the scallions, jalapeno, cucumber, tomato, and garlic - add everything to the bowl with the dressing, and mix well.  Chop up the avocado, and set aside (do not add to the bowl yet).

When the quinoa has cooled, add it to the large bowl with the vegetables.  Gently toss to combine.

To serve, put arugula or spinach at the bottom of the plate or bowl, and drizzle with olive oil.  Top with the quinoa salad, the Queso Fresca, and the chopped avocado.  Squirt some Siryacha on top if you like!

This was SO EASY to make, and so crazy delicious.  I even brought some to the park with me the next day to share with everyone.  It was a huge hit!  It stores well, and is great for leftovers.  Perfect for a Spring / Summer day! 

I enjoyed my salad with a glass of red wine, water with lemon, and a healthy dessert that I made up!

My dessert was just chopped banana, sprinkled with unsweetened coconut flakes, and a little drizzle of honey.  It was super yummy, and satisfied my sweet craving that I always seem to have after a meal. 

Very tropical, eh? :)

On another note, my tulips have come up - full bloom!!  Aren't they just gorgeous?  They make me so happy every time I walk up to the front porch.  

Yay for Spring!!  
These bloomin' babies got me so confident, that I planted some wildflowers in a pot in the house to see if they'd sprout with some love (and water, of course). :)  They already are, and it's making me SO HAPPY!  I never thought I'd get so excited about planting things and seeing them grow - but I totally am.  

Wooohoo!!  SPRINGTIME!! 

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