Zucchini Quinoa Salad

 Zucchini-quinoa-salad-bowl.

Things I love: one dish sides, using summer veggies, and getting protein in a side dish.  This zucchini quinoa salad fits the bill for all three of these.  I’ve been playing around with this recipe for over a year since I stumbled across it in Bon Appetit. I’ve made it many different ways and with several different kinds of quinoa.  I’ve finally come to the conclusion that throwing the quinoa in the rice cooker and forgetting about it is the easiest and best way to deal with the grain.  That way it’s not a pot to watch and as long as I am careful about how much water I add, the quinoa comes out perfectly. I’m all for easy meals in the summer. Ones where I don’t have to even turn on a burn on the stove are even better!

I’ve also played around with the squash in the recipe.  Wilting the summer squash with salt is a great light way of  “cooking” but not with guests who need to watch their salt intake.  Sometimes when making the salad I will modify it to sauté the zucchini and summer squash is a blistering hot cast iron pan.  That way you get all those lovely charred bits. I bet grilling the squash would be great as well.  It’s certainly an option if you need to mind the amount of salt going into the dish.  Keep in mind that the salty parmesan gives a nice contrast to the earthy taste of the quinoa as well.

The salad is a great side to grilled fish or chicken.  Serve it on a bed of arugula or spinach for some additional veggies. It also nicely gives vegetarians a meal as well as a side for carnivores when you are feeding multiple dietary constraints. And best of all, well more importantly for me, it’s gluten free!

zucchini-quinoa-salad

Zucchini Quinoa Salad (slightly adapted from Bon Appetit August 2012)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tsp kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 2 small yellow squash
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely broken, and then toasted
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Juice from 1 whole lemon
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • black pepper

Instructions

  1. Set quinoa to cook in rice cooker or pot with 1 1/2 cups of water to every 1 cup of quinoa for approximately 20 mins or until germ has popped.
  2. Trim ends off summer squash
  3. Then with a mandolin, thinly slice the summer squash into wide ribbons.
  4. Lay them in a large strainer and coat with the 3 tsp of kosher salt. Sit this in the sink as the squash will start to weep.
  5. Make dressing: combine lemon juice, lemon zest, vinegar, olive oil, and pepper. Whisk to mix.
  6. After 30 mins, rinse salt off squash. Pat to dry. If you would like slice the squash ribbons into thinner pieces.
  7. While squash is sitting, toast walnuts and chop basil.
  8. Mix together quinoa, zucchini, toasted walnuts, basil, and parmesan in a large bowl.
  9. Toss dressing to coat the ingredients.
  10. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

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