So I’m sitting here at a little village café having lunch (quinoa salad, actually, though not an easy green one), and a perfectly nice-looking man just walked by with earbuds in his ears. He was humming, and not quietly. The tune was repetitive, though not particularly recognizable — or tune-like, for that matter — and he sounded quite a bit like an ailing peacock. “I don’t think that sounds like you think it sounds,” I wanted to suggest to him “helpfully” and “without judgment.” But he was walking quickly, and I couldn’t catch him. It’s probably best, because really, there’s no time like summer for your uncomfortable al fresco hum-walking and other frivolous activities.
There’s no time like summer, too, for simple, for minimalist cooking. Ingredients are at their prime and need little help from technique, and who has time for technique when there’s summer to be lived? I’m finding myself making lots of salads, some light, some hearty, and serving them in various combinations alongside cut-up vegetables and plenty of fruit. Sometimes I’ll make large batches of a few salads for lunch one day and serve them again for dinner later in the week. So far, no one’s complaining.
This green quinoa salad came about when my seven year old’s yoga class had an end-of-year party, and they were asked to bring healthy snacks. Most kids went the route of fruit kabobs or maybe some raisins. But mine, being mine, asked me to make a quinoa salad. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to consider the issue, I feel strongly that when a seven year old asks you to make a quinoa salad, you say yes. You do not say no. Not ever. If she wakes you up in the middle of the night after you’ve had one too many glasses of wine, you stand up, put in your contacts, and say yes. If you’re swimming or biking or feeding the baby, you towel off, dismount, or drop that baby, and say yes. Then you head directly to the kitchen to start rinsing some quinoa.
This salad couldn’t be simpler or more adaptable. Feel free to substitute whatever green (or red, orange, or leopard-printed) vegetables you have on hand. The dressing suits a wide variety of produce, so you really can’t go wrong. It keeps well in the fridge for quite a few days, so maybe make a big batch and serve it for a couple of lunches and a dinner or two. You could toss in some cooked, shelled edamame to bulk it up a little, and maybe some chopped cilantro, especially if you’re not making it for a class of tiny yogis.
It’s summer, after all, so I recommend doing whatever you like. Even if it’s uncomfortable alfresco hum-walking. But…you know…especially if it’s not.
Talk to you soon.
Easy Green Quinoa Salad
I made this salad when my second-grader's yoga class had an end-of-year party. She asked me to bring quinoa salad, and that's not something you say no to.
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 3 cups chopped crisp green vegetables (see note)
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons good-quality soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Rinse the quinoa very well, then place in a medium lidded pot with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes or until nearly all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and keep in covered pot to steam for 5 minutes, until all water is absorbed.
While the quinoa cooks, chop the vegetables and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil with a fork.
Spoon the quinoa into a serving bowl while still warm and mix together thoroughly with the dressing. After it cools a bit, stir in the chopped vegetables. Serve cold or at room temperature.
I used 1 cup leftover steamed green beans cut into 1/2-inch lengths, 2 stalks celery, minced, and 1/2 cucumber, diced -- but you can use whatever you have