Monday, February 24, 2014

Quinoa Salad with Sourdough Croutons

This quinoa salad has become a favorite meal for us when we're looking to "keep things on the lighter side".

Quinoa Salad with Sourdough Croutons | Taste As You Go
Quinoa Salad with Sourdough Croutons

Over the weekend, those of us living in the Lehigh Valley (and elsewhere, I'm sure) experienced a welcome respite from the bitter cold and successive snowstorms. With temperatures rising to the mid-50s, it truly did feel like spring outside, and I spent as much time out and about as possible. Weekend activities included going to the spa for a massage, meeting up with my girlfriends for coffee, having dinner out with friends, and then spending the majority of Sunday with family. I just couldn't get enough of the sunshine and relatively warmer temperatures.

In honor of the coming of spring and more lovely weather -- hopefully sooner rather than later! -- I'm sharing my adaptation of this recipe for Quinoa Salad with Grilled Sourdough. It has become one of our favorite Meatless Monday meals and a go-to dish for warm weather get-togethers.

Bowl of Quinoa | Taste As You Go
Bowl of Quinoa

The first time I made this salad, I followed the original recipe exactly, but I found that the balance between all of the components was off. The quinoa felt like an after-thought, so I upped the amount of quinoa in my version and cut back a little bit on the vegetables. Feel free to do the same when you prepare the salad for you and your family.

Thick Sourdough Slices with Olive Oil | Taste As You Go
Thick Sourdough Slices with Olive Oil

Also, as I stated above, the original name of this dish implies that the sourdough bread is "grilled", but reading through the recipe reveals that grilling the bread, either on a gas grill outside or on a grill pan on top of the stove, is not involved whatsoever. Instead, you'll slice the sourdough into thick slices and drizzle or brush olive oil on top before putting the bread in the oven to brown.

Obviously, you could go ahead and grill the bread if you want to, but I found it was no big deal to put the bread in the oven while preparing the other ingredients. Whichever method you use, you want to wind up with golden brown bread that you can cube and toss into the salad.

Quinoa Salad with Sourdough Croutons | Taste As You Go
Quinoa Salad with Sourdough Croutons

Now, Stephen and I have been known to polish off the entire bowl of this salad in one sitting even though the recipe makes enough to feed at least four people. The way we see it, it's a healthy meal, so the more we eat, the better. ;-)

Quinoa Salad with Sourdough Croutons | Taste As You Go
Quinoa Salad with Sourdough Croutons

If you want, you could certainly make this salad ahead of time, making it a great dish to prepare if you're planning on serving it with other food, say, at a picnic or a potluck. If you're going to make the salad in advance, though, I'd recommend tossing everything together except the croutons. Add those in right before serving so they don't wind up getting too soggy before you've had a chance to eat any. The crunchy texture will make a big difference!

Quinoa Salad with Sourdough Croutons
Yield: 4 servings | Printable Recipe

INGREDIENTS
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 4 slices sourdough bread, about 1/2-inch thick
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to brush on the bread
  • Salt
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 4-5 small cucumbers, diced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Brush each slice of sourdough bread with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Lay the slices on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, turning them over halfway through the baking period. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain in a fine sieve, rinse under cold water, and set side to dry out.
  3. In a large bowl, place the tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, mint, parsley, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and minced garlic. Add the quinoa.
  4. Cube the bread slices and add the cubes to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Toss gently until all of the ingredients are well combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  5. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Recipe by Michelle Rittler | Taste As You Go // Adapted from The Nest | Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi

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