Quinoa Salad: Start Your Week Right

I ate quinoa salad three times over the weekend by sheer coincidence. Rather than hang up my new-age hippie sandals and dig into a hearty cheesesteak, however, I now have an insatiable craving for those flavors and textures, and none for meat. Which is great, because I'm now on month three of a 100%-legit (no cheating) acknowledgment of Meatless Monday.

The first quinoa moment was at a birthday party Friday night, surprisingly, at a showroom in the Fashion District. I was under the impression that alcohol, booze, champagne, cocktails, tequila shots and nothing else would be on that menu; however, my stomach and I were both surprised and pleased to partake of Thai fried quinoa with pineapple, basil and smoked tofu. It was so good I fully plan on re-creating it at home, possibly while drinking to ambient music in a sparkly dress.

The second was Saturday at the Grand Central Market's prepared food heaven Dishes at Home. Their salad featured chopped grapefruit suprêmes, chives, scallions, raw apple cider vinegar and tons of extra-virgin olive oil.

The third was me attempting to re-create that and failing so miserably that I just tossed in a bunch of black beans, corn, parsley, ground cumin and lime juice and passed it off as Southwestern quinoa salad. I put a call in to Dishes at Home for the recipe and can only hope they'll share that wealth.

A few other super easy preparations, once you've mastered cooking quinoa (which is only slightly easier than cooking rice):

  • Tabouli
  • Greek salad, minus the lettuce
  • Chopped Italian salad
  • Beets, walnuts and goat cheese (watch that superfood turn PINK)
  • Curried chickpeas
  • Smoked salmon, dill and lemon zest
  • Strawberries and baby spinach

  • Roasted red peppers, garlic and pine nuts

My only cooking advice is to prepare the quinoa slightly al dente and add olive oil immediately if you're going to serve it as a cold salad. It'll keep its chewy texture better and won't get soggy or mushy after a day or two in the fridge. Other than that, the sky's the limit.