I only have a few short weeks before I can no longer justify eating what I want, whenever I want. (Usually that doesn’t include quinoa salad.)
Given the choice, I may choose this particular quinoa salad over most of the indulging things I’ve been eating lately. This little one has wanted to nurse every waking moment of her days, and consequently my appetite is rather beast-like. I told Steve yesterday that I’d keep the baby fed if he’d keep me fed. Our grocery bill may just go up a smidgen.
That doesn’t mean I need to give in to every 9PM Nutella-on-ice-cream craving. I need to reign in my cravings and get ready for my July paleo cleanse (Which, by the way, means I’ll simply be eating strictly paleo. Not restricting calories or fat because I’ll be nursing.), so I’m gathering some healthier options, like this refreshing summer quinoa salad!
This one is similar to this Lemon Quinoa Salad, but has a sweet-ish dressing and a few other ingredients that turn it into a completely different salad.
And it’s totally sun-safe. No nasty, warm mayo to fear!
Sweet Lemon-Herb Quinoa Salad
Yield: Serves 6-8
My favorite part about this hearty, vegetarian quinoa salad is the sweet dressing made from lemon-infused oil! The whole thing is so light and fresh.
1/4 cup avocado or other neutral-tasting oil
1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 whole shallot, thinly sliced (or 1/4 of a medium red onion)
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup diced jicama
1/2 cup raw cashews (or peanuts, if you prefer)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed, leaves torn (or a couple handfuls of baby spinach)
Remove 2 wide strips of the zest of 1 lemon with a vegetable peeler. Combine 1 strip of zest with oil in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the edges of the zest turn slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Let the lemon oil cool. (That's what you have now -- lemon oil. Cool, huh?)
Meanwhile, cook the quinoa as directed on the package, adding the remaining lemon zest strip to the water.
Transfer quinoa to a large bowl, discarding the zest, and fluff with a fork. Let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, make the dressing by juicing both lemons into a medium bowl. Whisk in the vinegar, brown sugar, 1 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Keep whisking until sugar dissolves.
Discard the zest from the cooled lemon oil, then whisk the oil into the dressing. Add the shallots and let it marinate for 15 minutes.
Add the carrot, cucumber, jicama, nuts, cilantro, mint, basil and watercress/spinach to the bowl with the rice. Add the dressing and gently toss.