We are finally back to a true Meatless Monday! I had fallen off the Meatless Monday wagon for a while, but hopefully I can get back into the routine. Eating vegetarian once a week (or more) really is a great idea and I'd like to reincorporate it into my weekly diet. I made this quinoa salad because I realized that I had eaten a lot of red meat last week (and chocolate chip cookies), and I wanted to give my system a bit of a break. This salad was a perfect little detox, full of protein and veggies, with bright flavors. I wanted this salad to be filling enough to eat as a main dish, so I changed up the original recipe to add garbanzo beans for extra protein. (I also doubled parts of the recipe, so that I would have lots of leftovers for lunches).
My favorite part of the salad is the crunchiness and flavor that the almonds provide, and I might even add more almonds the next time I make it. Just be careful not to burn the almonds. I burnt two batches of nuts recently, because I got distracted with other parts of the recipes I was working on or maybe it was because I kept running into the living room to watch parts of the Olympics. Either way, watch your nuts! It may be easier now without the Olympics... but to be honest, I'd rather have the Olympics and burnt nuts than no Olympics. I'm already counting down the days to Sochi 2014.
Quinoa Salad with Toasted AlmondsAdapted from Whole Living
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1 cup quinoa
5 teaspoons olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper, ribs and seeds discarded, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish (optional)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1-1/2 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 can garbanzo beans
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 lime, halved
Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast almonds until crisp, lightly browned, and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Meanwhile, place quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear; drain well.
Stir quinoa, thyme, 2 cups water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 15 minutes.
In a medium frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add yellow pepper, garlic, and red-pepper flakes; cook until the pepper is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and sauté 5 to 8 minutes longer.
Add the cooked quinoa and vegetables to a large bowl. Stir in garbanzo beans, almonds, white wine vinegar and remaining 3 teaspoons oil, season with salt, and fluff with a fork. Before serving squeeze lime over salad. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary - add more vinegar or lime, salt and pepper until you are happy! Serve with additional lime wedge and thyme, if desired.