Fresh Garden Quinoa Salad

My wife and I go through this dilemma, probably like most of you, about once every couple of weeks and that is that we really consider eating ‘more healthy’ and incorporate more fresh vegetables and ‘good’ stuff into our weekly dinner plans. This is not to say that we do not eat healthy. In my opinion we do really well and rarely go out to eat, limit our intake on junk foods, and eat fairly well balanced meals throughout the week. Granted, we are eating more meat than we probably should but I think that defaults to my kids as if it were just my wife and I eating we would most likely be very content eating a nice salad on a daily basis. So not too long ago my wife had mentioned this idea and stated that she would really like to eat more quinoa. I listen to that stuff, and felt it was my duty to turn her on to a nice fresh garden salad. A quinoa salad that was packed full of crunch vegetables, and loaded with flavor.

Fresh Garden Quinoa Salad Recipe
Fresh Garden Quinoa Salad Recipe

This quinoa salad is simple to make and is perfect as a main meal, or side dish. It’s got great crunch and an awesome citrus kick to boot.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, seeds removed, diced
  • 1 medium sized tomato, seeds removed, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, diced
  • 1 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cucumber, seeds removed, diced
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup skillet fried chick peas, optional
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper to taste

If you have never cooked quinoa, it could not be easier. It is as simple as rice (without the rice cooker). Simply add water, add quinoa, stir, wait, and fluff.

Let’s begin by bringing 2 cups of lightly salted water to a boil. Add in the quinoa, stir, cover, reduce heat to a medium-low, and cook for about 15 minutes.  The water should be absorbed and the quinoa should be translucent. Taste so that it is tender. Once tender, remove from the heat, dump it into a mixing bowl, and let it cool.

Quinoa Salad Ingredients
Quinoa Salad Ingredients

Next, prepare all of your diced ingredients. I will leave it up to you if you want to leave the skin on your cucumber or not. I’m a fan on skin on with my vegetables whether that be cucumbers, potatoes, or carrots. Again, I will leave it up to you. Just make sure you get rid of the seeds. Once you have all of your veggies chopped and diced, add them to the bowl of quinoa.  If you are going with a bit more protein, add the skillet fried chickpeas (great for texture).

Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season with a generous pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper. Give this a good stir to mix everything, and then give it a taste. Does it need more salt, pepper, or oil? If so, go for it and adjust to your liking.

Now you are ready to serve. This quinoa salad is not only super healthy for you, but darn it is delicious. A perfect side dish for a family night meal, or a great leftover to pack for your daily lunch. Enjoy!

Fresh Garden Quinoa Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salads
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, seeds removed, diced
  • 1 medium sized tomato, seeds removed, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, diced
  • 1 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cucumber, seeds removed, diced
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup skillet fried chick peas, optional
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Let’s begin by bringing 2 cups of lightly salted water to a boil. Add in the quinoa, stir, cover, reduce heat to a medium-low, and cook for about 15 minutes. The water should be absorbed and the quinoa should be translucent. Taste so that it is tender. Once tender, remove from the heat, dump it into a mixing bowl, and let it cool.
  2. Next, prepare all of your diced ingredients. I will leave it up to you if you want to leave the skin on your cucumber or not. I’m a fan on skin on with my vegetables whether that be cucumbers, potatoes, or carrots. Again, I will leave it up to you. Just make sure you get rid of the seeds. Once you have all of your veggies chopped and diced, add them to the bowl of quinoa. If you are going with a bit more protein, add the skillet fried chickpeas (great for texture).
  3. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season with a generous pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper. Give this a good stir to mix everything, and then give it a taste. Does it need more salt, pepper, or oil? If so, go for it and adjust to your liking.
  4. Now you are ready to serve.

More Quinoa Recipes:

Mexican Elotes Tater Tots

Summertime is finally here, and sometimes that is s a great thing or a bad thing. The bad only being that it has been a scorcher in Wisconsin. The temperature has been in the upper to mid 90’s lately with a high percentage of humidity. I don’t perform well in humidity, and as I normally run hot to begin with, when you add humidity that only means I’m a walking puddle.  The great thing is that all of the wonderful produce that my wife and family love is in full harvest, and one of them being corn. I’ve always related corn and tomatoes to summertime while living in the midwest, and as we grow a lot of tomatoes in our garden, corn is pretty much on our lunch or dinner table several times a week.

While living in Dallas, I was first introduced to Mexican corn (Elotes), and I fell in love. It was addicting. Grilled or steamed corn smothered in mayonnaise, sprinkled with chili powder and cotija cheese, what was not to love? I had elotes on my mind after buying a handful of corn on the cob, and after rummaging through my freezer (trying to purge frozen items), I located some nice tater tots. I love tater tots, and after looking at both the corn and the tater tots, I knew I could only do justice my making some loaded Mexican Elotes Tater Tots.

Mexican Elotes Tater Tots Recipe
Mexican Elotes Tater Tots Recipe

Forget the nachos. These are a game changer.

Let’s get started.

  • 2 ears of corn, steamed or grilled, then cut off the cob
  • 1/2 a bag or about 15 oz of frozen tater tots, cooked by directions on bag
  • 2 cups of Supremo 3 Cheese Mexican blend cheese (Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Cotija)
  • 1/3 cup of Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped, to garnish
  • 1/2 lime, optional

Start by preheating your oven by directions, or fry the tots if you desire. I baked mine on a cast iron fajita skillet (love), and during this time steam or grill your corn.

Once the corn is cooked to your liking (I like mine a bit al dente), cut it off the cob and place it into a mixing bowl.

Add the mayonnaise, chili powder, and a bit of salt and pepper. Those tater tots need some salt and pepper.

Mexican Elotes Tater Tots Ingredients
Mexican Elotes Tater Tots Ingredients

Once the tots are close to being done (and to your liking), and some like them a bit tender and some like them nice and crispy like myself, remove the skillet or baking sheet from the oven. Top all of the tater tots with the Mexican shredded cheeses and place back into the oven and cook for about 5 more minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted.

Once the cheese is nicely melted, remove it from the oven and slide onto your serving plate. I keep mine on the cast iron skillet and place it on top of the wooden board that came with the fajita skillet.

Mexican Elotes Tater Tots Recipe
Mexican Elotes Tater Tots Recipe

Top with the corn mixture, shower with fresh cilantro, and serve with a lime wedge for additional acidity.

Now block yourself from others, just kidding, and dig in. You talk about everything you can love about Mexican Elotes, these Mexican Elotes Tater Tots just bring it over the top. Simple, quick, and delicious. This is a perfect Summertime snack. Enjoy.

If you are looking for other takes on Mexican elotes, or other corn ideas this summer, give these a try:

Homemade Corn Nuts

I grew up eating corn nuts. I loved them, and still to this day. I’m a bit cautious however eating them nowadays only because I think I may crack a tooth or something. But corn nuts are something my boys love as well, and I figured what the heck, let’s make some homemade ones. I was thinking of what to seasons these corn nuts with, and came up with two versions. One using a Filipino sisig seasoning (you can find it in your Asian market), and the other using one of my son’s favorite seasoning blends, Slap Ya Mama.

These corn  nuts are really easy to make, come out a bit on the chalky side which is ok, and still pleased the boys. Feel free to use whatever seasoning mix you enjoy.

Homemade Corn Nuts Recipe
Homemade Corn Nuts Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of Goya Giant White Corn Kernels (You can find at your local Mexican grocery store)
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • water to cover and soak
  • 3 cups of canola oil
  • 3 tbsp of your favorite seasoning blend

Now you have a couple of options here. You can fry them or bake them. I default to the fry method, however if you are going to bake them, bake them at 400 degrees between 20-40 minutes turning every 10 minutes.

You have to soak the beans overnight in a large bowl in cool water. The next day, drain the water, and them them stay in the strainer to air dry a bit. Sprinkle in the sugar and salt, and give them a good toss.

Next heat up a pot and pour in the oil. Bring to a medium-high heat for a few minutes. Drop in a couple of corn nuts and see if they sizzle. If not, wait a few more minutes until they do sizzle.

Homemade Corn Nuts
Homemade Corn Nuts

Fry the corn nuts, in batches, for about 15 minutes or until they get nice and golden. Move them around with a slotted spoon from time to time. Once they are golden, remove them to a paper lined baking sheet with a kitchen spider or slotted spoon, removing any excess oil, and let them cool slightly.

While they are cooling, pour them into a mixing bowl, and add your seasoning, tossing to completely coat them. Repeat and serve.

My oldest loved these, in particular the Slap Ya Mama version. Crunchy, salty, and delicious. These make for a perfect snack. Hope you enjoy!

Loaded Baked Potato Skin Nachos

The Super Bowl has passed, and to be honest I do not think that any one of us in my family actually cared. Sure, the boys said ‘I want the Patriots to go down!’ a few times that day, but the only thing I really cared about was what we were going to snack on. I am done asking, for the most part, what everyone would like to eat, and just lay things out. My menu was simple. Slow baked ribs that would be later fried and glazed, and loaded potato skins that would also be fried.

One of my top recipes is the loaded potato skins, and as I have made so many awesome variations of potato skins, there is one thing I have never done and that is to actually fry the skins. It’s a total game changer. Why? Well because you get a whole shell of that awesome crispy and crunchy texture, not just on the edges, but the entire shell. It’s almost chip like in texture, but with a bit, and just a bit of that creaminess from the potato.

Loaded Potato Skin Nachos
Loaded Potato Skin Nachos

As with any nacho, you load this as you darn well please, but for me, there was one ingredient that made this shine and that was crispy, Nueske’s smoked duck breast lardons.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs of russet potatos, cleaned
  • 4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Nueske’s smoked duck breast, cubed (or substitute bacon), and fried until slightly crisp
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 oz can of black olives, drained
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • sour cream, optional
  • avocado, sliced, optional
  • Your favorite hot sauce
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 serrano chili, thinly sliced, optional
  • shredded lettuce, optional
  • salt, to taste
  • 3 cups of canola oil, 350 degrees

Again, you can build your nachos however you want. Add beans and tomatoes if you desire. Load these suckers up!

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Add the whole potatoes to a baking sheet. Use a fork and poke a few holes into each potato to allow steam to release while baking. Bake the potatoes for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven, and let them completely cool.

Once the potatoes have cooled, sliced them in half, lengthwise. Use a spoon and gently scoop out all of the potato into a bowl. I use all of the potato, add a bit of butter, salt, and milk and whip them up to mashed potatoes for another meal.

Once you have all of your skins ready, heat up a pot with the canola oil. Get the oil to 350 degrees on medium-high heat, and once you have your temperature, drop in about 7-8, or whatever can easily fit into the pot without crowding, and cook the skins for about 5-10 minutes or until you begin to see the interior of the skins get golden and nicely crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potato skins and place them on a paper towel lined plate to release any excess oil. Immediately season by showering the skins with salt. Taters need salt.

Ingredients for making Loaded Potato Skin Nachos
Ingredients for making Loaded Potato Skin Nachos

Repeat with the potato skins.

Add the skins to a oven safe baking pan, and begin adding cheese into each skin.

When all of the skins have finished cooking and the excess oil is removed and they are nicely salted, layer the potato skins onto the baking pan and continue to add cheese into each shell.

Keep the oil on the stove, and take the cubed Nueske’s smoked duck breast and add them to the oil. Get them lightly crisp, then the same process with the slotted spoon and place onto the paper lined plate.

Take those Nueske duck lardons and place a couple into each shell. If you are using bacon, cook until slightly crisp, then crumble and add that into each shell. Add the shallots into each shell, then place back into a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted.

Remove the potato skins from the oven (do not devour), then decorate them with green onions, avocado, cilantro, serrano chilies, olives, hot sauce, and sour cream (or whatever you desire).

Loaded Potato Skin Nachos Recipe
Loaded Potato Skin Nachos Recipe

Plate and serve. You want to talk about an ultimate game day snack, this is the one! As much as we all love nachos, this loaded potato skin nacho recipe is really, really hard to beat. It’s everything you love about a nacho but in a crispy potato skin boat! Hope you enjoy!