elevating the status of the salad

Tag Archives: quinoa

Let’s skip the small talk and get right to this salad-as-a-meal.


1 cup quinoa

1 package of baby kale, or a bunch of any kale will do

2 portabello mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic, minced

5 basil leaves

about 1/3 cup olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar (or another sweetener of choice)

salt and pepper


  1. You’ll need to get your quinoa going first. Follow the package directions, or do it this way. I tend to use much less water than is recommended because let’s face it – soggy quinoa is gross: Boil 1.5 cups of water. Once it boils, add the quinoa, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer and cover for about 15 minutes.
  2. While that is happening, prepare your mushrooms. You can choose to scrape out the gills with a spoon (that’s what I like to do). Then, chop your portobello mushrooms into bite sized pieces. Toss it with a small amount of olive oil, the minced garlic, and some salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until they are very soft.
  3. Now that you have your hot food going, it’s time prep the kale. Your kale should be washed and drained. If not, do that. Then, roll it up into a tube and cut it into slivers. Put the kale in your big serving bowl.
  4. For the dressing, it helps to have a mini food prep. Chop up the shallot and toss it in there with 1/4 cup of olive oil, basil leaves, dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, sugar or honey, salt, and pepper. If you do not have a small food processor, you can just mince your pieces up really tiny and give it all a good whisk.
  5. By now, your mushrooms are probably ready and that is great because you don’t want to use a million pans. You can rinse the same pan you used for the mushrooms and toast up some sliced almonds on low in it for about 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Just watch them or they will burn! Remove from heat.
  6. Time to put it all together! Make sure your quinoa is dry enough. If not, drain it. Then, add the cooked quinoa and mushrooms on top of the kale. Stir it all together while it is still warm, and the kale will wilt a little. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Top with toasted almonds.

While you have the feta and mint ready, here is another summer salad. This one was adapted from Peter Berley’s class. He used farro (spelt) but I had quinoa on hand. Also, he used golden beets–so that the color would not bleed into the rest of the salad. I only had red beets, so I did just added the beets on top at the end, rather than mixing them in with the cucumbers and quinoa.



  • 3-4 beets, cooked, peeled, and diced

Beet Preparation Note (can be done ahead of time and stored in fridge) I roasted in an aluminum foil pouch for about an hour at 400 degrees, testing for done-ness when a fork glided easily through the beets. Depending on the size, it takes about an hour or more. Then, I allowed them to cool. Once cool, I used a paper towel to remove the skins from the beets, and diced.

Mint Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper


  1. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, cucumbers and vinaigrette. Mix well. Top with beets. Refrigerate until cold.
  3. Add the feta, dill, and parsley to the salad. Season with extra lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Top with beets.

Every month, I get a package of fresh organic fruit as part of the fruit of the month club. (Thanks, mom and dad!) This month, I received a giant box of sweet and juicy nectarines. I made a fruit salad with some of them, mixed with blueberries and raspberries from the CSA. I also wanted to incorporate the nectarines into a savory salad as well. This salad is protein-packed, vegan, and gluten free. A triple threat.

Grain salads can be a little bit more work than green salads because you need to cook the grains. I recommend making a large batch of grains ahead of time, and keeping it in the fridge. Then you have ready-to-go grains which you can use for salads throughout the week.

The Salad

1 cup quinoa

1 2/3 cups water

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1/3 cup chopped parsley

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

2 ripe nectarines, cut in 1/2 inch cubes

1/4 cup raisins

The Dressing

zest of 2 limes

juice of 2 limes

2 tsp honey

2 tsp rice vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil

additional salt and pepper to taste

1. Let quinoa soak in a bowl of water for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Rinse thoroughly and allow to drain. (This step takes out the bitter flavor of quinoa. If your quinoa is pre-rinsed, you can skip this step.)

2. Boil 1 2/3 cups water and then add quinoa. Bring to a boil again, and then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the “halo” separates from the seed and all of the water has been absorbed. Spread quinoa out on a baking sheet, and allow to cool completely.

3.  Toast the almonds and pumpkin seeds on a skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally. They are ready when the almonds start to turn golden, and the green pepitas begin to turn brown .Watch closely, as they will both burn quickly. Remove from heat and let cool.

4. Mix the quinoa with the rest of the salad ingredients.

5. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients through paprika. Then, slowly whisk in olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Toss dressing with the salad, and serve room temperature or chilled.