We like this salad because it is loaded with veggies and yet you get a good dose of protein with the quinoa. Quinoa, pronounced “keen-wah,” is an excellent source of protein and slow-releasing carbohydrate. It is a small grain and looks like millet. Quinoa has a delicate, nutty flavor, and because the shell of the grain separates from the creamy center during cooking, it provides a smooth and crunchy texture. Quinoa’s protein content, about 16 percent, is higher than that of any other grain. Wheat also has a high protein content, about 14 percent, but the protein in wheat and most other grains is lacking in the amino acid lysine, which quinoa has in abundance. In fact, the amino acid composition in quinoa is almost perfect. The World Health Organization has judged the protein in quinoa to be as complete as that in milk. In addition, quinoa contains more iron than most grains, and is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, folate, and many B vitamins.
With all that being said, the rich colors in this salad make not only an enticing side dish, but you can enjoy this salad as a main entree for a vegetarian lunch. Once the quinoa is prepared, the rest comes together in minutes.
Chop 3-4 green onions, 2 roasted red peppers (I purchased these in a jar, or you could roast your own), 2 c. grape tomatoes and 1 c. of fresh cilantro.
Peel and dice a small butternut squash. Add 1/2 c. of orange juice to the squash and microwave until just tender. (you want them still a little firm, not mushy)
Cook quinoa according to directions. When I cook quinoa, I often triple a batch and then freeze 1 c. portions. We eat a lot of quinoa, often in place of potatoes, pasta or rice.
Make vinaigrette with 1/2c. olive oil, minced garlic, 1/2 c. fresh lime juice and 1/2 t. salt and pepper to taste.
Toss all the ingredients together with the vinaigrette. I did not have any pine nuts here, so I omitted them. You could substitute almonds too, desired. Serve at room temperature.
Quinoa Butternut Squash & Roasted Red Pepper Salad
2 large red peppers, roasted and diced
2 c. quinoa
2 c. water
3-4 green onions, chopped
2 c. grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
1 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
½ c. pine nuts, toasted
Rinse quinoa in cold water. In medium sauce pan combine quinoa and 2 c. water. Bring to boil then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat, remove lid let stand about 20 minutes.
Mix vinaigrette and blend with all other ingredients. Serve at room temperature.