It’s March! That’s the start of spring, right? The Beast and I went on a vacation last week (more on that later…) and on the first day The Beast said to me, “You know what’s nice? When we come home it’ll almost be golf season.” The next day he said the same thing, but replaced “golf season” with “spring,” and then he went so far as to say we’d basically be coming home to summer. Welcome to the mind of a Minnesotan.
We ended up flying home in the middle of a snow storm…welcome to the life of a Minnesotan.
When warm weather becomes such a foreign concept that I can’t even remember what it feels like to walk outside without the cold stealing my breath away, I like to eat something that at least reminds me of summertime. Take this salad, for instance. It’s jam-packed with fresh veggies, bright flavors, and pretty colors…which sounds silly, but when you live in a monochromatic winter world, colorful food helps.
As a bit of a texture freak, I love the multiple crunches that come up as you bite through the raw onions, red pepper, and sliced almonds. Alongside that crunch, you get juicy tomatoes, nutty quinoa, and bright, creamy lemon tahini dressing. It’s so refreshing you might just think summer has a chance of coming around…eventually.
Fresh Veggie Quinoa Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 red onion, chopped and divided
- 1 cup quinoa (I used tri-color quinoa, but any kind will do)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted if desired
Lemon Tahini Dressing
- 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Cook the garlic in the oil until fragrant (about a minute).
- Add half of the onions and cook until translucent. Pour in the quinoa and toast for 2-3 minutes, then add 2 cups water, salt, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- For the dressing, pulse the tahini, water, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while the processor is running.
- Add the chopped vegetables (including the remaining raw red onions*), garbanzo beans, and almonds to the cooked quinoa, then pour the dressing over the mixture. Stir well and serve.
*I like the crunch, sweetness, and color of the raw red onions, but if you’re not a fan, simply add all of the chopped onion to the pot with the oil and garlic before adding the quinoa.
I actually made this salad a few days before we left for vacation, thinking it would help get me in the spring/warm weather swing of things. Mission accomplished!…until we actually arrived for our vacation and experienced a very cold, very windy version of Florida. Oh well, it’s almost summer here anyway.