I think it is safe to say- summer is upon us for good. But my winter-stiff body remains unconvinced. She is cranky and unwilling to shed the yearly inertia that descends like a bear with the shrinking daylight. And even though my brain is- at long last- flickering awake now that we're well past Summer Solstice, my taste buds still crave those creamy comfort foods that sustained me (thank you, lovely spuds, lasagna, and mac and cheese, I love you with all my heart).
I am trying to convince myself I'm craving lighter, cleaner tastes.
As inspiration (incentive may be a more accurate word?) I dragged out my warm weather jeans. You know the ones. That mocking stack in the back of the closet you haven't fit into since December 2014, when you began wondering aloud (for the benefit of the fashion police) if the laundromat dryer was shrinking your favorite Levi's- the jeans you have to lay down to zip, doing your best imitation of Jane Fonda's pelvic tilt, sucking in your breath and praying to the zipper gods. Those cruel mean girl skinny jeans. You know what I'm talking about. (Who designs these fashion trends? No one over thirty-five, I imagine.)
So here's what I'm thinking. Quinoa to the rescue. Like in Quinoa Salad with Pineapple, Broccoli and Mint. Vegan. Versatile. Easy. Fresh. Light. This delectable quinoa salad is all of the above. And maybe, just maybe, it'll be the first step toward fitting into those elusive skinny jeans. If I care. And if I don't bake my luscious Flourless Chocolate Cake or Dark Chocolate Brownies. Let's see--- skinny jeans vs. cake. Maybe I'll just tuck those suckers right back in the closet. Behind the stack of hats I never wear.
They seemed like a good idea at the time, too.
Quinoa Salad with Pineapple, Broccoli, and Mint
This light and lively salad is perfect for warm weather. Make it for a picnic, or a lovely vegan lunch. I made the dressing mild, but if you prefer it spicy, feel free to add more ginger or some red chili pepper, to taste.
Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in cold water, using a fine sieve. Cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water. I use a rice cooker to do this. Easy peasy.
While the quinoa is cooking, prepare your salad ingredients and make the dressing.
1 cup diced pineapple
2 cups broccoli, blanched *see how to blanch broccoli, below
2 medium carrots, sliced into matchsticks
4 scallions (green onions), sliced
A handful of soybean sprouts (or mung bean sprouts)
A handful of fresh cilantro and mint leaves, rough chopped
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
For the dressing:
1/4 cup pineapple juice
Fresh juice from 1-2 limes
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil or avocado oil
2 tablespoons organic low sodium gluten-free Tamari
1 inch ginger, grated
A dab of agave, to taste
Chopped roasted cashews
When the quinoa is ready, scoop it into a large bowl and fluff it with a fork. Allow it to cool.
Make your dressing.
In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Taste test. If you prefer a dressing that has more fat, add a little more olive oil. Sweeter? Add a touch of agave, to taste. More citrus? Add more lime juice. More of a vinaigrette? Add more rice vinegar. More ginger? You know the drill.
When the quinoa has cooled, pour in the dressing and toss lightly. Add the pineapple, broccoli, carrots, scallions, soybean sprouts, fresh cilantro and mint. Gently combine the ingredients. Taste test for seasoning adjustments. Add some sea salt and pepper, if you desire.
Cover and chill to let the flavors mingle and get happy. Before serving, taste test and adjust seasoning. I usually add a squeeze of fresh squeezed lime juice and a little extra chopped fresh mint leaves before serving.
Cook time: 20 min
Yield: Serves 4
Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com
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How to Blanch Broccoli:
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the broccoli. Boil for 2-3 minutes only. Drain the broccoli and immediately plunge it into a bowl of ice water. When the broccoli is cool, remove and drain well.