Summer Quinoa Salad

It's no secret that I love to cook. 

While I sometimes come up with my own recipes, more often than not, I find a recipe online (via Pinterest), make it, then adapt it to my liking. 

I love the idea of cookbooks, but usually they just sit on my shelf. Which is silly, because those recipes have been tested 100x more than a recipe on a cooking blog. 

But with this cookbook by Sara Forte, I feel like things are going to change. 

First off, I love the concept of the book: if anyone pays attention to food trends (like me), grain/buddha/glow/hippie bowls are the next big thing. (Which is wonderful, because honestly, you don't really need a recipe to make one - they're a combo of fresh and roasted vegetables, grains, greens, protein, and some kind of sauce)

Sara's book is centered around the concept of bowl foods: a combo of vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, big salads. While it's not limited to grain bowls, Sara does include a guide on how to make your own. 


Back to the recipe: it's what made me fall in love with this book. 

On a Saturday night, my mom and I walked over to Barnes & Noble (I know, the 12 year old in me is dying that I can now walk to B&N - dreams do come true!). We went to get a different book, but of course, were distracted by titles and covers and words. 

After lingering for quite some time, I walked over to the table with a mountain of cookbooks. Pictures of delicious food just asking to be made. There I saw Bowl + Spoon, Sara Forte's second cookbook. 

I've been following Sara's blog for a couple of years now, and love her style of whole foods with bold flavors. A simple flip through of the first few pages affirmed the decision to purchase it. 

Fast-forward to the next Wednesday: crazy me decided to make a new recipe the night before I left for Haiti. 

In the scramble of packing bags, I paused long enough to mince some garlic and grill some corn. When I'm all over the place, I'm forced to say yes more: Yes, help me halve tomatoes. Yes, shred the kale, please. 

The controlling person in me used to hate letting people help me in the kitchen; it was my domain and territory. I was convinced they would mess up the dish if they helped - I knew best, right?

There are bigger and more important things in life than dinner and salad dressings. They aren't worth snaps and criticisms. But they're an opportunity to share and bend and let go. 

So we sat around the table that night, with leftovers packed for my flight in the morning. 

I carried that salad onto a plane and ate it over the Bahamas: a little piece of saying yes and letting people help you. Because we're not always as strong as we think we are. 

I hope you buy the book and make the recipe! I've made my own adjustments, which I mention below. 


Summer Quinoa Salad 

serves 4

1/2 cup of quinoa (I used a half and half mixture of red and white quinoa)

3/4 cup of water or broth

3/4 pound of cherry or grape tomatoes

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 small ears of corn

2 1/2 cups of finely chopped kale

3/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/3 cup toasted blanched slivered almonds (Sara calls for pine nuts, but they're $$)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (or ricotta salata)

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Dressing

1/4 of unsweetened almond milk 

half a lemon

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of honey

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put the quinoa in a pot with the water/broth. Bring it to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff it with a fork, turn off the heat, set the cover ajar, and set aside to cool completely. 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Halves the tomatoes and spread them on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet (or just line with non-stick tin foil). Drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt & pepper, and toss everything to coat. Spread the tomatoes in an even layer and roast 30 to 35 minutes until slightly dried at the edges - toss every 10 minutes. Remove to cool. 

(This is different than Sara's recipe) Turn the grill on medium heat. Clean the corn. Brush with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil (you probably don't need all of it). Season with salt & pepper. Grill the corn for 10-15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. You just want a good grill mark on both sides. Once done, allow them to cool before shaving the kernels off. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, kale, and cilantro. When the tomatoes and corn are completely cool, add them along with the pine nuts and cheese to the bowl. 

For the dressing, first pour the almond milk in a small bowl. Squeeze the lemon into it, and give it a quick whisk with a fork (Sara calls for buttermilk - I didn't have any, so I used this method to create my own). Once it's sat for a few minutes, add the garlic, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, honey salt and pepper. (The honey's my addition - I like my dressings sweet!) Whisk everything to combine. 

Toss the salad wight end desired amount of dressing. This salad will keep, covered, in the fridge for 3 days. 

To follow Sara's blog, visit www.sproutedkitchen.com