Quick Fix: Quinoa and Summer Vegetable Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

After putting together a couple of dishes, I always end up with a few odds and ends of vegetables, and cooked, unused quinoa, rice or pasta sitting around without a home. The unfortunate reality is, is that I often end up throwing those odds and ends away because I’m not quite sure what to do with them, or I just don’t have time to figure something quick and easy to make with them.

003This time, I was determined to come up with something instead of throwing away perfectly good food. It occurred to me that I could make a salad in which I would just combine the leftover quinoa and vegetables, including the zuicchini we still had left. What I was unsure about was how to tie it all together – what dressing would I use?

Then it hit me, I could try to re-create the vinaigrette that I was taught to make during my home stay in France 20 years ago. One of my fond memories of France and the family with which I lived for two semesters is that I was very much included in their nightly meals, including helping to prep the meals. My “French sister” taught me how to whisk together Dijon mustard, vinaigrette, a little salt and olive oil to toss into a bowl of lettuce. On occasion, I was entrusted with this task which to me, felt like the ultimate nod of approval and acceptance into their family.

I did add a couple of ingredients to the original recipe as I was going to need to increase the volume of the vinaigrette so it could get absorbed by the quinoa, and also … well … I can never leave well enough alone, haha.

So, that’s what I did, and it turned out really nicely! It’s a salad that I’ve found is best made ahead and left to develop flavors overnight. If you’re in a hurry though, the salad is still tasty same day. The recipe makes a lot of salad, so it’s great for a two-diet family like mine. Since the rest of my family members are meat-eaters, they can use the salad as a side, but I can serve myself a nice pile of this salad and call it a main dish. Because of the quinoa, chickpeas and vegetables in it, the result is a filling, satisfying, tasty and healthy meal.

If you’re in need of a quick, versatile dish this is for you!

Quinoa and Summer Vegetable Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
Prep time: 45 minutes if you are using quinoa that you have already cooked006
Servings: Approximately 8

3 cups cooked, cold quinoa (I usually cook my quinoa in vegetable broth to add flavor)
2 small zucchini cubed into bite-sized pieces
2 plum tomatoes cubed
1/2 small onion finely chopped
8 oz package baby portabella mushrooms, rinsed, stems removed and sliced
One 15-oz can of chick peas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Dijon Vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp herbes de Provence spice blend (or use any other favorite spice blend of your choice)

1) Put 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the cubed zucchini, salt and pepper to saute. Cook the zucchini for about 10 to 15 minutes or until it is nice and browned on most sides and tender.

2) While the zucchini is cooking, combine in a large bowl the cooked and chilled quinoa with the tomatoes, onion, mushrooms and chick peas.

3) Once the zucchini has cooked, add to the quinoa salad. Stir in to evenly distribute throughout the salad.

4) In a small bowl, add the ingredients for the vinaigrette and whisk together. Immediately pour over the salad and stir to combine.

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