I received a bag of red quinoa in the mail from a swap — that I’ll write about soon! — and I knew it would be perfect for a tasty salad. I rarely make grain salads because I find that many don’t keep well texture-wise. They get too clumpy and dry, especially rice. Similarly, I may be the worst architect of pasta salad in the world. I can’t remember the last time I made one that was much more than just edible. Quinoa is a good exception, however. It maintains its fluffiness well, and I find it far more filling cold than other grains. I think maybe it’s the quantity of the individual grains (or seeds, really, I guess).
(As a side note, the quantity discussion reminds me of a Mitch Hedberg joke: “I can’t eat spaghetti, there’s too many of them. No matter how hungry I am, 1,000 of something is too many.”)
Anyway, I adapted this recipe from one my friend and former book-group leader shared. It features a nice combination of summer and fall items, so I chose a ridiculous name to reflect it.
- 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
- 1 large cucumber, chopped (peeled if preferred)
- 1/2 a container of cremini mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
- 10 basil leaves, torn
- 2 green onions, sliced (green and white)
- 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup pecans
This is a very easy recipe. Just cook your quinoa in 2 1/2 cups of water. When it’s ready, put it in a large bowl with everything but the pecans. Chill and eat topped with pecans. Serves 6.
The salad keeps very well in the fridge and welcomes substitutes. You can use any color of quinoa, but the red gives it a nice color contrast with the greenery.
On another food note, yesterday I showed you the soup I made, but I wanted to mention the ways I have mixed it up in subsequent eatings. On Tuesday night, I reheated it in the slow cooker and added half the giant bunch of chopped rainbow chard, another 1/2 cup or so of chickpeas, and an additional chopped hot pepper.
And then I got home late last night, so instead of making the kale salad (on tonight’s menu now), I whipped up a serving of polenta for one (boil 1 cup water, whisk in 1/4 of cornmeal, and cook over a simmer, stirring constantly until it’s very thick, about 10 minutes). I then ladled a cup or two of soup over the top, mixed it all together until warm, and seasoned with additional pepper.
What’s your favorite way to upgrade or reinvent leftover soup?