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I guess calling it a salad can be misleading.  There is no lettuce.  Lots of veggies, but no lettuce.

 

This is the first post using what I found at the farmers market this week.  I decided to roast the asparagus I got, and pair it with some red bell peppers, parsley, kalamata olives and quinoa.  I also added goat cheese because seriously, everything is better with cheese.

I love quinoa.  Have I mentioned that here before?  It is the perfect food to add to pretty much anything in place of pasta or rice, neither of which I care for all that much.  My sister is going to roll her eyes at that, she is a pasta fiend.  It’s a rare day when I choose pasta for a meal.  Even mac’n’cheese is better with quinoa.  Well, maybe not better, but just as good.

You can really add in any veggies you like to this, and had I thought about it I would have roasted my bell peppers too, but I’m ok with them raw since I love the crunch.  Sometimes I throw peas in, just for fun.

A note on roasting.  My friends Brian and Melissa were the ones who taught me how to roast veggies like i’d never had them before.  They make my brussel sprouts taste like french fries in the healthiest way possible!  Basically, you toss the veggies with olive oil and kosher salt (no table salt for this, sea salt could be ok) and just stick them on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, turning once.  They come out crispy on the outside and soft and squishy on the inside.  Like a french fry.  Only they are veggies!  This is really the only way I eat brussel sprouts. 

To cook quinoa always remember the 3:1 ratio.  So 1/2 cup of Quinoa to 1 1/2 cups water.  Or chicken broth for more flavor.  But this is a veggie friendly salad, so water for this recipe.

I also added in kalamata olives because they are the perfect complement to veggies.

 

Personally, I love salt.  I know people say it’s horrible for you, but frankly I have low blood pressure so i’m not even remotely worried about hypertension.  Plus, I think it’s healthy to eat salt you provide in natural form as opposed to the mass quantities of sodium in prepared foods.  I think enjoying olives and kosher salt in the same salad isn’t going to overload you on salt for the day. 

Then again, I used to eat salt by the spoonful as a kid so my thinking may be warped from all the sodium I ingested.  But still, I love the saltiness that olives add to this recipe.

For the dressing I decided to just used what I had on hand and incorporate more fully the flavors I had already put in the salad.  So I tossed together some olive oil, red wine vinegar, a dash of the kalamata olive juice and some salt. 

I like to make my vinaigrette by hand, it makes it so much yummier than most of what you can buy in the store.  Actually, I make an amazing chipotle ranch dressing as well.  I can do regular ranch, but it’s boring for me.  I want to try my hand at blue cheese dressing one of these days.

I threw in some parsley for the green of it I guess.  I do love cilantro in my quinoa salads, but this time I saw parsley and figured why not? And viola!  Lunch was served for the week.  You can eat it cold like Nuria has been doing, or you can do what I do and throw it into the microwave for 20 seconds to get it all nice and warm again.  It looses nothing in the reheating.

Warm Quinoa Veggie and Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Roasted Asparagus (about 10 or so spears)
  • Diced bell pepper (any color you want will work, you could also leave it whole and roast it with the asparagus before you dice it)
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives
  • 1 small log of goat cheese
  • 1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • splash of kalamata olive juice
  • pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Put the 1/2 cup quinoa in a small pot with the  1 1/2 cups of water with the lid on.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and keep checking every few minutes for all the water to absorb, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, set the oven to 400 degrees and take whatever veggies you want and toss them in olive oil and salt.  Stick them in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until nice a dark.  Turn once.
  3. Once the veggies have cooled dice them all up to bite-sized pieces and throw into a big bowl. 
  4. Add in the cooked and slightly cooled quinoa.  You want it warm, not hot.
  5. Mix all that together in the bowl and let it set.
  6. Meanwhile, put all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl or a cup and whisk quickly with a fork or small whisk until it is all emulsified.  Taste test and add any additional ingredients until it tastes how you want it to.  Sometimes I add a bit more olive juice or vinegar.
  7. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat
  8. Crumble in goat cheese and toss.  It will melt a bit into the salad to make it slightly creamy.  If you want to keep chunks wait until the salad has completely cooled to add the goat cheese.
  9. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top and dig in.
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