I named this quinoa salad after the kitchen sink, because you can literally add just about anything but the kitchen sink and it will still be yummy. (Okay, any VEGETABLE, for all of you ultra-detailed people!) We had a surprising string of summer-like weather here in the Pacific Northwest this weekend, and suddenly I didn't want to make the kitchen any hotter than it already was by using the oven. This salad was cool and refreshing, while still being really satisfying. My family loved it and the kids were asking for seconds and thirds! Which is good, because this recipe makes LOTS of salad...enough for my family of five to have for dinner, plus some leftovers for lunch the next day. (If you'd like a more modest amount for a smaller family, simply cook half the recommended quinoa.) Have fun with this one and add whatever fresh veggies you have on hand...make it your own! If I'd had zucchini or summer squash, or fresh tomatoes, I definitely would have thrown those in. We ate this as our main dish last night, but it would also be a lovely addition to a picnic or barbecue! It's reminiscent of a pasta salad but oh-so-much-healthier and even more satisfying. (Oh, and I just tasted it again today...I can now vouch for the fact that it's even BETTER the second day!!)
about 4 cups cooked quinoa*, cooled
1 sweet bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow), chopped
1-3 heads broccoli, chopped into florets
1 cucumber, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup kalamata olives
any other veggies of choice (fresh tomatoes, carrots, or celery would all be delicious)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dried basil (fresh basil would be even better!)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
*How to cook quinoa:
1. Rinse well, just like you rinse rice. This means you add water to the pot with the quinoa, move your fingers around in the pot several times till the water is a bit cloudy, pour the excess water off, then add more water and repeat. You could do this for 3 or 4 minutes!
2. Add 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. For this recipe, I add 4 cups of water to 2 cups of quinoa. (After rinsing the quinoa repeatedly, however, I estimated that there was already about 1 cup of water in the pot, so I only added 3 cups of water to the pan.)
3. Bring water and quinoa to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
4. Remove lid, fluff quinoa with a fork, and let it sit for about five minutes.
5. To cool it quickly for quinoa salad (since I never seem to think far enough ahead for nice cold quinoa salad) spread it in a shallow baking dish and put it in the freezer while you prepare your vegetables and dressing. In a perfect world, the quinoa would be made and chilled before you start dinner prep. But who lives in a perfect world?
Chop your veggies. Add them to the quinoa. (I've been saving glass jars that some of my foods come in and they make great dressing jars!) Add all the dressing ingredients to a small glass jar and then shake it up - much faster and more efficient than trying to whisk your ingredients together. Anyway, pour it over the salad...mix it all up...and enjoy! The colder the better, so you can easily make this salad ahead of time and serve chilled. Yummers!