Minneapolis/St. Paul was buzzing this weekend. There were so many things going on! On Saturday alone, the Twins won, U2 played an amazing outdoor set in the driving rain, the summer Aquatennial festival wrapped up with fireworks, and one of our favorite bands– local blue-grass boys Trampled By Turtles– put on a fantastic concert. While Radd and I only had time to catch the last of those events, we had a great night. My brother and sister-in-law took in both the baseball game and the U2 show, and said both had this incredible vibe. What a great weekend! It makes me so happy to live here.
How does this relate to food? No clue, but I’ll do my best to tie them together. Summer is a busy time and often you need quick, healthy meals that you can simply pull from the fridge–or ones that you can make at the beginning of the week and eat over several meals. For that, I offer you this filling, fabulous salad. Quinoa (KEEN-wa) is one of my favorite grains. It’s quick, easy and sooo healthy. Chickpeas are a nice compliment, as they’re full of protein, healthy, and don’t leave you hungry. There’s real heft to this salad– you’ll know you’re eating something substantial. I used black quinoa in this version, but you can use whichever kind you have. As for the recipe, think of it more as a list of suggestions– play around a bit to find the mix that you like best. Add ingredients that are your favorites, or that you simply have on hand. Fresh cucumbers come to mind. Also, while I love mixing fresh garden lettuces into the salad, if I know I’m going to have leftovers I don’t mix them into the whole batch. The lettuce tends to wilt. Instead, add it to the other ingredients just prior to serving. Hope you enjoy– let me know what wonderful combinations you come up with!
The Recipe: Summer Quinoa and Chickpea Salad
1 cup black quinoa, rinsed
1 cup dried chickpeas, cooked
1 cup small cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup ricotta salata cheese, cubed
Fresh garden greens, torn
Fresh herbs, such as basil, parsley, mint, or thyme
Red Wine Vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup (or more to taste) of extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
sprinkle of sugar, if desired
To make the chickpeas: Place them in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil. Boil for one minute and remove from heat. Cover with lid. Leave the chickpeas in the pan of water, covered for 2 hours. After that, check for tenderness. Cook a bit longer if needed. Drain and sprinkle with a tiny bit of kosher salt. Allow to cool. (Note: Feel free to make more than needed for the recipe and keep extras in the freezer. They are a wonderful addition to many salads, or like my two year old daughter– you can just eat them for a snack.)
To make the quinoa: Rinse quinoa and place in a medium saucepan. Add 1 – 3/4 cup water to the pan. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer. When most, but not all of the water is absorbed, remove from heat and cover. Forget about it for a for about 10-15 minutes. All of the water should be absorbed and the quinoa should easily fluff with a fork. Cool.
To make the Vinaigrette: Add all of the ingredients in a bowl except the olive oil. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Taste. Adjust seasonings, if necessary.
To assemble the salad: Place chickpeas, quinoa, tomatoes, ricotta salata cheese, herbs, and torn lettuce into a bowl. Pour most of the dressing over the salad (I usually reserve some because I dislike a salad that contains too much dressing — more can be added, but never taken away). Gently fold the ingredients together. Enjoy!
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