Colorful Quinoa and Veggie Salad

Quinoa is the king of grain-like foods. While not a true grain, quinoa packs complete protein into neat little seeds that are more closely related to tumbleweeds than to actual grains. This “pseudocereal” is a great staple for a plant-based diet and a tasty alternative to more well-known grains such as wheat, rice, and barley.

I love the versatility of quinoa. It can be enjoyed during all seasons and is delicious served either hot or cold. Summer is a great time to please your palate with plenty of colorful foods, and a pretty quinoa salad will enliven your senses.

Colorful Veggie and Quinoa Salad

This particular recipe, too, can be enjoyed either warm or chilled. I tossed together some of my favorite fruits and veggies, including fresh zucchini, golden beets, red bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes. I added fresh lemon juice, cilantro, and green onions to enhance the natural flavor of the fresh vegetables. This dish is great to share—it’s perfect for picnics and potlucks and for proving to friends and family that vegans can get their protein from a plant!

My inspiration for this dish was color. Have fun with it, and don’t be afraid to be bold with your choice of veggies! Quinoa recipes can easily be altered for any season or appetite, so what veggies would you add?

Colorful Veggie and Quinoa Salad
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 golden beet
1 zucchini
1 red bell pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
10 cherry tomatoes
1/2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
Juice from 1 lemon
3 green onions, sliced

• Pour the quinoa into a medium-size sauce pan and add the water. Bring to a boil, then switch to low heat and cover. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until quinoa is fluffy. Set aside.
• Remove the skin of the beet with a knife or potato peeler. Slice into thin rounds, then cut into strips (resembling fries).
• Halve the zucchini, then cut into slices approximately 1/4-inch thick.
• Cut the red bell pepper into strips, then cut the strips into thirds.
• Halve the cherry tomatoes.
• Sauté the beet, zucchini, and bell pepper in olive oil on medium heat until just soft. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Set aside.
• Mix the cilantro into the cooked quinoa. Add the lemon juice and stir. Place a scoop of the quinoa mixture onto each plate and cover with the sautéed veggies. Top with the sliced green onions.

Makes 4 servings

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