april 1, 2017
You probably have your breakfasts covered, even if your choices are routine and familiar. Perhaps dinners are easy, too, since you cook on the weekends for the week ahead. But lunches may have you scratching your head , as you decide what to pack, if you take a lunch, or where to pick up something not too heavy, something that won’t have you napping in the early afternoon. If you are in the habit of buying lunches out, you may fall into the trap of eating too much in volume and not enough in quality.
My best lunches are what I call “brain food” – things that keep me sharp and quick on the draw. I’m thinking bean and lentil salads, soups with lots of veggies and some added protein and lately, quinoa, combined with lots of crunchy vegetables and whatever is in season.
Think of this crunchy quinoa vegetable salad as a type of wheat-less tabbouleh, with one entire bunch of grassy Italian parsley, scallion and fresh lemon juice. Round out the mix with a plethora of crunchy root vegetables and you’ve got a meal that satisfies because you must chew thoughtfully with all those nice veggies and because you will feel energized and not at all drowsy after enjoying this lunch.
Feel free to add grilled, sautéed, poached or roasted proteins to top this colorful meal. Last night’s dinner leftovers will mingle happily with this salad and you can customize this recipe with your choice of vinaigrette or other homemade dressing; you can add more sweetness, too, and since some like it hot, a few pickled hot peppers would bring a little zing to your lunch.
One of the best things about this quinoa salad is that is keeps well in the fridge for up to three weeks as long as you use a nice clean spoon to remove your lunch portion and refrigerate the remainder. The color of the pretty vegetables will fade because of the lemon juice, but crunch and flavor keep on going strong.
I see this quinoa base as a palette for spring vegetables like asparagus, summer friends like cucumber and peppers and in the fall, roasted butternut squash and shaved brussels sprouts.
Adding variety to our lunchtime picks can be fun, healthful and exciting and the best part is not having to agonize over what to pack.
Crunchy Quinoa Vegetable Salad
makes about eight cups
one cup uncooked quinoa
one medium carrot, peeled and grated
one small turnip, peeled and cubed
one small rutabaga (or ½ large), peeled and cubed
one medium golden beet, peeled and cubed
one medium chiogga (candy stripe) beet, peeled and thinly sliced
one large bunch Italian parsley, chopped
one large stalk celery, finely diced
3-4 scallions, sliced
one medium clove garlic, zested or finely minced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons pure apple cider vinegar
zest and juice of one large lemon
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
one pinch finely ground white pepper
1-2 tablespoons pure agave nectar or honey (to taste)
- Combine well-rinsed quinoa with 1 ½ cups water in medium saucepan, bring to boil and stir, then simmer over low heat, covered, for 15 minutes.
- Let covered quinoa sit off heat for five minutes, then pour into large mixing bowl.
- When quinoa has cooled, add remainder of ingredients except for agave or honey.
- When all is mixed, add sweet to taste (I prefer one tablespoon but you may like more).
- The salad will taste very tart initially, but remember that vinaigrettes will tame down after chilling; you may need to add a little more vinegar or lemon juice once salad is fully chilled.
- This salad will keep in the fridge up to 3 weeks, as long as you use a clean spoon to remove your portion and refrigerate the remainder immediately.
- Color of the veggies will fade, but crunch and flavor will remain.
- For a make ahead tip, quinoa may be made and chilled the day before tossing the salad.