Summer ... when the living is easy. Unless you live in Houston, in which case summer is a string of 95 degree days with high humidity. I've learned to live with the particulars of summer living here -- blackout curtains, A/C cranked to the max, and finishing all strenuous activities by ten a.m. Cooking can be a real challenge. I try to keep cooking to the stovetop, because the oven will heat up the apartment and make the A/C nearly useless.
Whole grain and pasta salads are a perfect summer staple for just that reason. The only cooking needed is to boil water. In the past, I've included recipes for Greek Orzo Salad and Bulgur Wheat Summer Salad, two picnic and pot-luck favorites. Today, I'm going to add a third summer salad - North Central High Salad, a quinoa salad that's high in protein and deliciousness.
I've named this salad after my alma mater, North Central High School in Spokane, WA. Our colors were red and black, and this salad, because it uses black quinoa and tomatoes, echoes that color scheme.
This is black quinoa in the pot. The grains are smaller and nuttier-tasting than regular quinoa.
North Central High School Salad
(This will make one, lunch-size serving)
1 cup black quinoa (you can use regular quinoa if black is not available). If you buy quinoa that is unwashed or from the bulk aisle, you should rinse it well with cold water to remove the bitter saponins, or outer coating of the seeds.
2 cups water
1 heirloom tomato
3-4 sprigs lemon basil (if lemon basil is not available, you can use regular basil and add a squeeze of lemon juice to the dressing)
1 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Boil the water and add the quinoa. Turn heat to low and simmer until the water is evaporated, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside. You'll use about a 1/2 cup for the salad. The rest you can save in the fridge and use in place of rice or as a protein addition to other salads (it's difficult to cook less than a cup at a time, so I recommend cooking more than you need for a single serving and then you've got a delicious treat for later!)
Step 2: Chop the veggies and basil. Mix with a 1/2 cup of quinoa.
Step 3: Make the dressing. Using a fork, mix the vinegar and oil. Sprinkle in salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture and toss with a fork.
You could increase the recipe to make a big batch of this, or eat it for lunch yourself. All in all, this is a cool and refreshing way to eat this summer.
* Meatless Monday is a movement to increase awareness ofsustainable, meat-free eating, by eating meatless meals on Mondays. So alliterative!
** Of course, your meal will be more sustainable the more organic and local choices you make in your ingredients