Here it is, everyone: my first recipe post. I'm really not much of a cook. I like food that's simple to prepare. Here's a recipe for one of my favorites, quinoa salad.
When I was in college, I studied abroad in France during the spring semester of my junior year. I lived with a host family, made up of three daughters who were in high school or college, a dad, and a mom. The mom was originally from Peru. Right after I got there in February, we started eating quinoa as a side dish during meals. For those who haven't tried it, quinoa is a grain that's a bit like a cross between rice and couscous. It's native to the Andes, like my host mom, and is super high in protein. As the weather warmed up that spring, my host mom began making "la salade," which featured quinoa, any veggies that were laying around, and a light dressing. This was one of my very favorite things that I ate while living with my host family, and once I was home and cooking for myself, I decided to replicate it. I'm not really a pasta-salad lover, so I think this is an awesome stand-in!
Here are my instructions for making quinoa salad:
I have a roster of favorite veggies for this dish, and since I don't often have veggies lying around (because spoilage is a serious problem when you live alone), I usually use half a cucumber, 2 carrots, and 2 roma tomatoes. I cut then into bit sized pieces - they don't need to be finely diced up for this recipe. I use raw vegetables because that's most convenient for me, but you could certainly cooked. I would recommend that they be no warmer than room temperature.
So, when all of the mix-ins are ready, I dump them into the bowl with the quinoa. I like to put "wet" ingredients in first, but that might be irrational. The quinoa, veggies and others are in the bowl on the right. On the left, we have the sauce.
One of the reasons I prefer this to your standard pasta salad is that mayonnaise-type dressings make me a little nervous. My host father was required to strictly avoid mayo and other cream-based sauces for health reasons, so there was never any question of using something like that at their house. You can put whatever kind of dressing you want on this salad. I make one using a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. Once, I found a recipe on the internet that suggested 1/2 a cup of olive oil and 1/3 cup of lemon juice. For me, that was WAY too much lemon juice. I use probably more like 1/2 a cup of olive oil and 1 tbsp of lemon juice, though I'll admit that I don't measure anything and just look at the color when I mix it up in my little white bowl. While I think it's a good idea to mix up the sauce beforehand, if you need to adjust the ratios once it's already mixed with the salad, it's not a big deal. Just add whatever you need more of to the bowl, mix it up, and voila!