When the warmer weather settles in — which it hasn’t quite here, still raining — I start making lots of cold grain salads. My favorite grain to use is quinoa. The salads are a satisfying, yet light and cool, main dish and can boast of including virtually anything you’ve got on hand.
We attended a Memorial Day picnic on Monday and I hemmed and hawed all weekend about what to take. See, I usually always take a quinoa salad and I thought maybe I should take something different for a change. But by Sunday night, true to form, I was rinsing and soaking the quinoa anyway.
We arrived at the picnic on Monday, the quinoa salad in hand, and one friend commented that she thought about bringing a quinoa salad but didn’t because she figured I was going to. Another friend said she had been looking forward to the quinoa salad I was sure to bring. They got me there. I guess I’ll stop fighting it and always bring one. People depend on it, see?
Spring Quinoa Salad
This is about half the amount I usually make, whether for gatherings or just for us. I like to have plenty to share and/or plenty of leftovers.
- 4 cups soaked, cooked, and cooled quinoa (see grain soaking and cooking instructions here)
- 1 to 2 cups soaked, cooked, and cooled pinto beans (see bean soaking and cooking instructions here)
- 1 to 2 cups cooked, cold chicken, diced (see how to cook whole chickens in a crockpot here)
- 1/4 red onion, quartered and sliced thinly
- 1 to 2 cups spinach*, coarsely chopped
- 6 to 8 radishes, sliced thinly (not pictured)
- handful fresh basil, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup raw cheese, crumbled or diced (I used the no-tech Middle Eastern cheese in the Cultured Dairy & Basic Cheese eCourse)
- 1/2 cup+ extra virgin olive oil
- 2 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or lemon juice (optional)
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
Toss all ingredients together in a big bowl. Use more or less of any of them. Adjust seasonings. Give the flavors some time to mingle, in the refrigerator or at cool room temperature. Enjoy!
*If eating on a regular basis, spinach should be lightly steamed to reduce oxalic acid. But occasionally, we eat it raw.
Be sure to bookmark my garden quinoa salad, featuring deeper summer veggies. When the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are out, there’s nothing like it! Speaking of gardens, you can pop over to Such Treasures to read my garden update.
Do you make cold grain salads? What do you put in them?