Every summer there’s something that is repeatedly put on the table; this summer that dish is quinoa salad with zucchini and walnuts. I use cookbooks and the internet as well as recipes that are passed on by friends or family, but sometimes I create a recipe myself. That’s the case with this quinoa salad. It’s good enough that I’d like to share, but more importantly recipes posted on this blog serve as my own little recipe box. I always know where I can go find them, and the Internet’s (seems to be) infinite in safekeeping what I like to cook. This recipe for one more alternative of a quinoa salad provides the perfect warm summer salad to accompany the meat being grilled on the BBQ.
- 1 cup quinoa
- T1 zucchini diced up to nail size
- 1-2 shallots thinly sliced (depending on likes of this caramelized onion taste)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup walnut oil and another 1/2 tablespoon too
- 2-3 cups greens–my favorite is spinach and arugula but any dark mixed greens will do
- kosher salt and fresh black pepper–to taste
Cook the Quinoa
There are various ways to cook quinoa. It’s pretty much like pasta: some like it cooked with salt, some like it al dente. I clean one cup and then place it in a pan. I cover the quinoa with 1 1/2 cups (plus a little) and place it on the stove. I turn the burner to high, get the water to a boil, and then turn the heat way down so it can simmer. Once the water is all gone, I find the quinoa to be perfect. If it goes too long here, it could stick to the pan, so I try to avoid this. Once the quinoa is ready I put it in the bowl I plan to serve the salad in and let it begin to cool.
Prep the Veggies and Nuts
While the quinoa is simmering, I chop up the veggies. The zucchini should be diced into small fingernail sized squares. I thinly slice a shallot or two depending on how large the shallot is and how strong I want the onion to be. And I chop up the nuts.
Fry up the Veggies
In a wok, I heat up the walnut oil. Once it’s nice and hot I throw in the shallots, stir them around a bit until they’re starting to brown, and then toss in the zucchini. This process of browning the zucchini takes about ten minutes. I keep the heat high, so the oil is bubbling. I stir every once in a while which allows the vegetable to brown. Brown equals crispier and more caramelized in my opinion. This smokiness will provide the yummy flavor to come. At this point I’ll add a little salt and pepper. Once the zucchini is ready, I place it with all the oil that it was cooked in on top of the quinoa that’s in the bowl in which I’ll serve the salad.
Toast the Walnuts
In a small little pan, I’ll heat the remaining walnut oil and add the chopped walnuts. I toast these adding a little salt too. Once the walnuts are nicely toasted, again I add this to the top of the zucchini and quinoa. The oil that both the zucchini and walnuts were cooked in will serve as the dressing in addition to the seasoning of salt and pepper.
Just let this cool
At this point, I just let the bowl of all the heated ingredients cool. I bring the bowl to the table with the lettuce leaves I’ll mix in. It isn’t until dinner is just about to be served that I add the greens. The greens will get nicely warmed and softened by this mixture.
Add the Greens and Serve
Dinner is ready and so is this salad. I just toss the green leaves in and mix it all up. We have a summer buffet table out by the grill so it’s all right there ready to go. It’s the perfect warm accompaniment to whatever has been grilled on the barbecue.
Enjoy! Do you have a way of preparing a quinoa salad that just works every time? I’d love to know about it….