Monday, September 26, 2011

In Praise of Quinoa - Chickpea & Quinoa Salad

My friend Denise called me out for neglecting this little blog. She's right, I have no excuse! I'm a rather pathetic blogger as of late. And the truth is, I've been returning again and again to old familiar standbys. Fresh tomato sauce over whole wheat pasta, salads with lemony dressings and lots of cucumber, simple roasted vegetables, and lots of help from the Trader Joe's frozen foods aisle.

It's true that things have been fairly busy lately with work. I've added pilates a couple times a week to the schedule, and with the days getting shorter, I feel worn out at the end of it all, and I haven't been inspired to tackle a new dish.

I think I'll start to feel that inspiration again with the turn of the season. More dinners eaten at the dining room table, with candles and music instead of the latest episode of Breaking Bad on the TV (though it will still be watched, so good!) And, a more concentrated effort to eat healthier. Smaller portions and more vegetables and grains. I'm trying to be much better about this, more conscious of what goes into my body, and less mindless eating of the things I don't need, or really even want. I'm sure we could all be better about this, but I think I'm going to need a bit of support and camaraderie in this effort. Any of you have any tips and tricks for healthy eating and meal planning? Maybe if you wouldn't mind sharing some of your favorite healthy recipes, it would inspire me to give them a try. I'd love some suggestions!

We've made a couple of changes so far: we've switched completely to whole-wheat pasta. I thought I'd never get used it it, but after a month, I crave it, and I've hardly missed white flour pasta. Sourdough bread is now a once in awhile treat, and whole-wheat has come to stay. Trying to cut out as much white flour and sugar as possible. I'm still looking for that perfect pizza dough recipe using whole wheat flour. That's tricky, it seems.

So here's a quick salad I threw together yesterday in the midst of an afternoon of errands. Healthy and quick, I just cooked the quinoa and tossed all the ingredients together. It had enough fiber and protein to keep me sated from noon until 6pm. Not bad!

Apologies for the lack of pictures. This was gobbled up before I got a chance.

Chickpea & Quinoa Salad

Serves 8

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas or canned
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
  • Baby Spinach (you can chop a couple cups and use it fresh, or use an entire bag by wilting it in a saucepan with a bit of olive oil over low heat)


  • 2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • the juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp honey

In a large bowl, combine the quinoa through the mint, toss together. In a smaller bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing, and whisk together with a fork. Pour over the salad, and toss, coating the salad. Taste for seasoning, serve while still warm.

Add the dressing to the salad and stir well.