Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer Salads

Summer is a great season for fresh, colourful salads with so many local vegetables in season. My latest kick in the salad domain has been to go lettuce-less and try out some other main ingredients that are more protein-packed. My two mainstays this summer have been chickpeas and quinoa. Both are super healthy and have fiber and protein, and because they're both a neutral colour, the vegetables and herbs really pop in these dishes.

Quinoa Salad

1 box quinoa
30 grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 sweet onion, chopped
10 radishes, sliced
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/3 cup goat's cheese
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt, pepper, herbs of your choice to taste

Cook quinoa according to package directions and let cool. While the quinoa is cooling, chop the vegetables and place in a large bowl. Once the quinoa has cooled, pour over the vegetables and stir. Crumble the goat's cheese and add to the salad. (I like to use an herb-crusted goat's cheese as it adds colour and flavour instantly). Pour in the lemon juice, vinegar, and oil, and stir to create the dressing. Season with salt, pepper, and your favourite herbs to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

I had my bowl of quinoa salad with some fresh strawberries on the side and it made for a healthy and satisfying lunch! You can always substitute vegetables based on your own preferences as well. I've done celery in the salad, or different coloured sweet peppers. Make it yours!

Chickpea Salad

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
30 grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
10 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

It could not be simpler! Again, like the quinoa salad, this one changes depending on what vegetables I have on hand. I usually prefer to have a different colour pepper to add some more contrast to the salad, or sometimes I use green or red onions instead of white. No matter how you do it, these salads are quick to whip up and make a simple, pretty side dish or midday snack.

My beats for this post put me in mind of summer. I have a clear memory of being in fourth year when this song came out and riding in my friend Gill's car, windows down, with this song playing. I don't remember where we were going, but it was near the end of the school year and it was one of those unseasonably warm days. The song makes me think of summer every time I hear it. Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis:

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