This salad is excellent both for its taste AND how good it is for you. Quinoa is gluten free, has a low glycemic index, and provides all eight essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It is known as the best source of protein in the vegetable kingdom.

I try to always have a batch of plain quinoa in the fridge to use instead of rice with dishes. I also like to have a quinoa salad on hand. If I eat a regular salad for lunch, I am hungry about an hour later. A quinoa salad sustains me a lot longer. I get shipments of fresh veggies and fruit from Full Circle Farms, so I’m always on a mission to find ways to use up my veggies. The quinoa salad is one of my favorites because it’s so versatile. I can throw practically any veggie in it and it’s fantastic. Now that’s my kind of cooking. The key is to pick veggies that stay fresh for a long time. I like to make gigantic batches to last all week. I also like to divide it into Mason jars for on-the-go servings. This has been a lifesaver on road trips! I also like to add vinaigrette dressing with plenty of seasoning and cheese.

My recipe for vinaigrette dressing was inspired by the way everyone in France whips up their nightly dressing. When I was studying abroad and living with a French family, this task was assigned to me along with setting the table.

Here is my version of the dressing:

Now for the salad:

  1. Prepare the quinoa based on the package directions and number of servings you want.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, chop up your veggies.
  3. My staples are in big Costco-sized jars in the fridge. I add these to just about everything. For my giant batch I added 1/4 cup of capers and a cup of each of the following:
    – Artichoke hearts
    – Kalamata olives
    – Peperoncinis
  4. Next add 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts. To toast them, put a smidge of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until you see some browning.
  5. Here is one of my favorite parts of the recipe: the cheese. Mmmm. Add a cup (or more if you want ;)) of Cougar Gold Cheese chopped into small chunks. Any white cheese will work. I often use feta or goat cheese.
  6. Next I chop spinach, kale, or mustard greens into bite-size pieces. A cup is great but more is even healthier!
  7. Now the creativity begins. Chop up a variety of veggies and throw ’em in! Today I added two heirloom tomatoes, green beans, carrots, onion, and bell peppers.

I sure do hope you enjoy this and that it becomes a staple in your fridge as it has mine. Happy cooking!

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