Ho hum quinoa to delicious meals

This time of the year is tricky, because it is CRAZY. Crazy busy!

When things get nutso, I make this quinoa salad. It’s like your favorite convertible bra, except with food. With a few easy switches of a strap it can go with any outfit or in this case, a few veggies or sauce.

When time is short, I make one hardy, flavorful “thing” that I can eat at breakfast, lunch or dinner. In this particular case, a salad. Yes, salad for breakfast. Stick with me, I’ll explain.

On May long weekend, when the camping season officially starts, forest fire potential goes up. Mostly because as humans we can be a little dumb. It’s true. In Canada at least, people want to get out in the back woods, go fishing, camp, have fires (no explanation required), drive quads (they do indeed start fires) through the forest, which in turn means higher potential for fires. Mostly because the grass is still dead and the stuff lights up like cheap whiskey.

Long story short, on the May long weekend, I spend very, very, very, long days in my office in the sky… my tower. Right now I’m up in my “office” from 9 am to 8 pm. Not including the time I do my weather report from 7:15 am to 7:45 am. There are no lunch breaks, dinner breaks or breaks period (unless its a bathroom break of course). I bring my lunch up with me and I have my dinner at the end of the day. At 8:15 pm, there’s no way I’m waiting 30 minutes for something to cook so that I can eat!

That translates to a food problem!

Enter Quinoa Salad.

I took some time at the end of my day (when I least wanted to I can assure you!) to make a few delicious recipes that I could use in a variety of ways. This way my future meals are flexible, based on what I feel like at the moment. I’ll show you some of my creations/suggestions for this versatile quinoa dish.

This is what I made:

  • Cilantro Parsley Quinoa Salad (undressed)
  • Roasted Red Pepper Jam (I’ll share this with you on Friday!)
  • Roasted Eggplant (Don’t like eggplant? Try it with roasted zucchini or cauliflower)

Using those 3 basic things, I was able to make 7 different meals (with the addition of 1 or two other ingredients). Those are just the ones I’ve made of course. I should mention, I’d still be going if I hadn’t run out of salad. I should have doubled the recipe. Which reminds me. I’m only one person. If you’re 2 or more, you may want double the recipe or it won’t go as far. I hope you’ll find a few recipe variations you like and that you will be inspired to play a little yourself.

Roasted Eggplant with Savory Red Pepper Jam and Quinoa

It just goes to show, even in a really busy life, or period of time, that a person can still eat well, without hardly spending anytime in the kitchen.

This is only one of the many variations of this salad that I make. Last week I incorporated quinoa with mint, dill and purple cabbage. Feel free to let loose and get wild. Add other veggies and herbs. That being said, the simpler the ingredients, the more flexibility you’ll have in using it in creative ways. I also don’t dress the salad. The herbs stay fresher and I can use it with eggs in the morning or a salad at lunch. Heck, you could even throw it into some vegetable stock and veggies (like diced tomatoes and spinach) to make a soup in less than 10 minutes.

Quinoa meant for a salad, easily turns into breakfast if you leave out the vinaigrette.

Cilantro Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup of quinoa, raw (rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley
  • 2 large green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa according to package directions or using my favorite method. Fluff the quinoa and allow it to cool. I usually spread it out on a cookie sheet to cool it quickly. Chop the parsley, cilantro and green onions. Toss them into the quinoa once it has come to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper.

Lemon Cumin Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2  tsp each ground cumin and ground coriander
  • 1 to 2 pinches of salt

Whisk all the ingredients together until emulsified.

Here are the meals I’ve made so far.

  • Zucchini Noodles with Roasted Eggplant and a Spicy Pepper Sauce (more on this on Friday)
  • Avocado and Grapefruit Quinoa Salad (consider adding hemp seed “breadcrumbs” for a delicious surprise)
  • Fried Egg with Roasted Red Pepper Jam and Cilantro Herbed Quinoa (no dressing)
  • Strawberry Feta Quinoa Salad (sub in add almonds, pecans or avocado for a vegan option)
  • Poached Egg with Salsa Verde and Herbed Quinoa (no dressing)
  • Roasted Eggplant with Roasted Pepper Jam and Quinoa (with or without dressing)
  • Roasted Eggplant and Spicy Pepper Tapas (I had it as a snack. Yes I eat tapas in the back woods and it was FA-Bu-loUS)

I want to thank my sister for the eggs that were sent up from Edmonton when my husband was up visiting. They have been put to good use!

What’s your favorite quinoa salad recipe? Let me know in the comments below!