For reasons that will soon become clear next week (if you can't already tell from the photos or my most recent Instagram post!), Jonah and I spent the better part of January in a transitional phase, relying heavily on ready-made grocery counter staples rather than cooking ourselves. One in particular found its way into our regular rotation: A pre-packaged quinoa salad. The simple salad had just the right amount of sweet and savory, with golden raisins, slivered almonds, cumin seeds, red bell pepper, and a touch of pineapple. Despite living off of it for weeks, I'm still far from sick of it!
Beyond its obvious merits—it's delicious, healthy, and filling—it's also incredibly easy to reach for and goes with so many things. Most often, we ate it directly from the fridge in heaving spoonfuls, standing at the kitchen counter, but in our more creative moments, we added it to salad greens, served it with salmon or soft-boiled eggs, and, once, in this soup. To save myself the daily $4.99 (not to mention the single-use plastic), I began experimenting with my own version that I could make at the start of the week for whenever I'm in need of a quick and easy meal or snack. I bolstered my own Frankenstein-ed version of my grocery store's salad with chickpeas, additional herbs, and vegetables to create a quinoa salad that works perfectly as a stand-alone lunch or dinner that's best served at fridge or room temperature. Best of all, it's almost as easy to make as it is to eat! Read on for how to make a batch to kick off your week:
Makes about 7 servings
For the salad:
2 1/2 cups quinoa (makes roughly 7 cups cooked)
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups slivered or chopped almonds
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup olive-oil marinated, roasted red bell peppers, chopped
1 cup golden raisins
1 bunch parsley, chopped (stems and all!)
1 cup dressing, or to taste
For the dressing:
1/3 cup pineapple juice or fresh-squeezed pineapple
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
Small handful mint leaves
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt, to taste
How to make it:
1. At least thirty minutes before you plan to eat, cook the quinoa to package instructions to allow time to cool.
2. While it cooks, add the dressing ingredients to a jar and blend with an immersion blender until the mint is fully incorporated.
3. Add all of the ingredients to a large airtight container or serving bowl and toss! This salad is excellent at room temperature or straight out of the fridge and tastes even better the next day. Enjoy!