Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Impromptu quinoa salad

I've mentioned before that things have been busy and I haven't had as much time to really cook lately.  I'm hoping that will change a bit now that the holidays are over and it's 2016.  But in spite of the not trying out new recipes, we've still been trying to eat healthy.  It just involves throwing things together and taking some short cuts.  So I thought I'd share one of our recent quick dinners.

We've been doing a lot of these grain bowls and I love them.  They're versatile, you can generally use whatever you happen to have around the kitchen, they tend to be good for left overs, and if you cook the grains in advance over the weekend you don't even have to turn on the stove when making the weekday dinner!  

Like I said, this isn't really a recipe as it doesn't have amounts and the specific ingredients don't even matter so much.  It's more of a method. And my method is combining some sort of grain, fresh vegetables, a protein source (beans, lentils or tofu are my vegetarian go to's), a sauce or dressing, and then finishing it off with optional flavor elements such as cheese, nuts, herbs, etc.  So here's how last week's quinoa salad worked out.


1 cup of raw quinoa.
Veggie broth (I prefer low sodium)
Broccoli (I used the already cut florets that I can steam in the bag to make things quicker)
1 can of chick peas (drained and rinsed)
Cherry tomatoes (this was the only thing I chopped, I cut them in half for ease of eating)
1 package of feta
Dressing (mustard, cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper)

We had the quinoa already cooked and ready to go so we didn't even turn on the stove.  But if you don't have cooked grains ready, the quinoa cooks quickly and you can put it on the stove to cook while you prep the rest of the ingredients.  We just cooked the quinoa according to the package instructions, using vegetable broth instead of water for some added flavor.

I chose vegetables that are easy and don't require much cooking or chopping.  So bagged broccoli that we steamed in the microwave and cherry tomatoes, which I chopped in half so that didn't take too long.  Another favorite time saver I like to use is shredded slaw (our grocery store has various varieties such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc.).  Such an easy way to get extra veggies into your weeknight dinners. Just make sure you choose a bag that is all veggies and doesn't have extra ingredients.

And then the last component is the dressing.  You can use store bought dressing but it's so easy to make your own that it's what I usually do.  I take a small tupperware container with a tight lid and make the dressing in there.  I put in mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper and any other seasonings I'm using.  I mix those things up with a fork and then add in the oil.  I generally like to use equal amounts of oil and vinegar though you can adjust that to your own tastes (the joys of making your own dressing).  And then I put the lid on tightly and just shake until the dressing is incorporated.  Voila!

So for the quinoa salad, I threw the quinoa and veggies in a mixing bowl along with a can of chick peas, a package of feta, and then the dressing on top.  Mix it up and it's all ready to eat.  This made 4-6 servings so we also had leftovers for later in the week.

Not exciting or new, but easy, quick and nutritious for a weekday dinner.  I'd love to hear about some of your easy go-to meals as well!