I often find it challenging to select a dish to bring that will be tasty and fresh, while avoiding items likely to quickly become suspect in the heat (I like you, mayonnaise, but I'm not touching you if you've been out in the hot summer sun for even a short time).
Add to that that so many friends and family members have special dietary restrictions - some are gluten-free, some are vegan, others are paleo or avoiding nightshades or nuts.
I find that a fresh veggie Quinoa Salad dressed with a vinaigrette is a versatile and addresses most of these issues - especially if you modify ingredients according to specific needs. It travels well in a secure bowl and tastes even better if you let it meld for awhile in the dressing.
This is the basic recipe, but please do adjust the veggies and herbs to what you have on hand locally and to your preferences. I have to avoid bell peppers, for example, but they'd be wonderful in here for those that can eat them. And if you're awash in zucchini or other garden bounty, toss some in!
Summertime Quinoa Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
3 cups water
Chopped vegetables (at least 3 cups total):
- summer squash
3 bunches fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used parsley and mint - basil would also be good!)
Diced avocado (optional) - *SEE NOTE BELOW
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste
After rinsing in a strainer, combine uncooked quinoa with water and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and let cook for about 20 minutes until the quinoa is fluffy and liquid has been absorbed. Turn into a large bowl (big enough to allow for tossing the salad) and let cool.
While quinoa is cooking, make the vinaigrette - combine all ingredients into a jar or salad dressing bottle, cover and shake well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Add the vinaigrette and mix again - I find it helpful to blend a bit less than I think is needed, and let it rest for about a half hour and then add more if necessary (otherwise, I tend to overdo and wind up with a pool of dressing that never melds into the salad).
Turn the salad into a sealable container and if you have time, let it chill up to a day before taking along. When it is ready to serve, give the bowl a good shake to make sure the vinaigrette hasn't settled.
* NOTE ON AVOCADO
Optionally, just before serving, dice some avocado to serve on top of the salad - it's best not to chop it into the salad, as avocado doesn't keep well once it's been exposed to air and it will ruin any leftovers if you put it in with the other veggies. But it's worth having if you're able to manage any last minute prep, because it tastes so good with the salad!
If you're asking yourself why I label this grain-free when it's full of quinoa, I'll tell you! Quinoa is actually a gluten-free pseudograin, not a cereal grain, so it can make a great alternative for those avoiding grains or gluten. If you're serving someone who doesn't eat grains, ask them if they include quinoa in their list of things to avoid.
This salad also is a good, substantial choice for those not eating meat, as quinoa is a good source of iron, protein, and fiber.
I'd love to hear what you'd toss in here and what your go-to potluck dishes are!
WE WERE FEATURED!