Quinoa Salad

I learned an important lesson this week that I’d like to share with you: When all else fails make quinoa. Yep, I’m fairly certain that’s going to be my motto from now on. You see I had absolutely nothing planned for dinner Monday night. And if you know anything about me you know that I don’t do well without plans–whether that’s what I’m doing this weekend (going to California, btw) or what I’m eating tonight. So not knowing what’s for dinner isn’t something that happens very often. There’s also the fact that I didn’t have any time to go grocery shopping this weekend so it’s not like I had a bunch of ingredients on hand that I could easily whip together. Sure, there’s always takeout, but when I get home from yoga I like to minimize the amount of time between when I step out of the shower and when I shovel food into my mouth. In other words, waiting 60 minutes for some greasy Thai noodles to arrive wasn’t an option.

So I opened my refrigerator and stared. Then I opened my pantry and stared some more. Finally, I stuck my face in the freezer and rummaged around. I continued the refrigerator-pantry-freezer routine for a good five minutes. I was this close to reaching for the eggs that were three days beyond their expiration date when, finally, my eyes landed on a gold mine: Quinoa. Then I remembered the bag in the freezer filled with some edamame. And the can of corn in the pantry. And the random assortment of veggies in the crisper drawer. Maybe it’s all of the pinning I’ve been doing (I. Can’t. Stop. Pinning.), but making a quinoa salad was one of the most effortless things I’ve ever done in the kitchen. (I later realized I’ve pinned about half a dozen versions of quinoa salads, yet didn’t think to follow any particular recipe–I’m sure they’re ingrained in my brain after looking at so many.)

Besides being easy to make (duh, it’s a salad) the thing about this dish is that it’s super filling for being a salad. I actually try to avoid eating salads and sandwiches for dinner because I like to eat FOOD and not, um, lunch. The quinoa itself is totally satisfying and the edamame, corn, and avocado definitely up the fill-me-up factor. I also whipped up a brand-new salad dressing using random ingredients on hand (hello half of a cava orange…what?) that happened to rock my world. (Recipe below.) I am completely converted now and will always have quinoa on hand for those planless dinners when I find myself doing the refrigerator-pantry-freezer tango. Bring it on.

Quinoa Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients
You can use whatever ingredients you have on hand. I didn’t do much measuring, so these are merely guidelines that can help steer you in a tasty direction.

For the Salad
1/2 cup quinoa (I used tricolor)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, cooked
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1/4 pound green beans, ends trimmed and blanched in boiling water

For the Rice Vinegar-Citrus Dressing
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
Juice of 1/2 orange (I used cava, but any variety will do)
1/2 Tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
salt & pepper to taste

Preparation
Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small container with a lid and shake vigorously until combined. Add dressing to salad (you may have more than you need for this recipe so only add as much as you like) and toss to combine.

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