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Summer is finally upon us! Toes are out, temps are soaring into the triple digits and every grill this side of the hemisphere is polished and ready to go.

I don’t know about you, but between Memorial Day and now, I’ve consumed my fair share of grilled meats and then some. My body is a little heavier, and after recently completing my first 10K race, I’m doing my best to cut down on meat and eat a little lighter. #summerbody right?

When you think of salads, most people gravitate toward your average Caesar, or some variation with lettuce. I’m going to open up your taste buds and get you to try a bevy of other greens and ingredients you likely wouldn’t pair together! Greens such as Kale, Swiss chard, Arugula, and Spinach, to name a few, are chock full of nutritional benefits that rival our fleshy need for sustenance.

In this Quinoa Salad recipe I’ve chosen Arugula as my base green for its light texture, and distinct “bite.”

Since it’s “Meatless Monday,” I’ve had to do some work to pair ingredients that are great substitutes for animal protein, taste good, and at the same time make me forget that I’ve just been chomping on greens for the last half hour. In comes the super food Quinoa!

Did you know that Quinoa is one of the few grains that contains 9 of the essential amino acids? Each cup (cooked) contains about 8 grams of protein, the granular equivalent of an egg or an ounce of chicken. Truthfully, the list of accolades goes on, but the ones I care about most are the health benefits and how delicious it is when cooked!

Ingredients

3 handfuls of washed Arugula

1 cup cooked Quinoa

4-5 cremini (baby bella) mushrooms

1/3 cup of chickpeas

1/3 cup of sweet corn

1/3 cup of grated carrots

Paprika

Salt

Salad dressing of your choice

Instructions

Over running water, rinse out your Quinoa and cook according to package directions. It’s important to rinse out your Quinoa before you cook it to take away the bitter taste. Use two cups of water per one cup of Quinoa. Lightly season with salt (optional) and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer til the water is absorbed. Transfer to a baking sheet or large surface and spread out to cool quickly. At this point you can grate your carrots and toss in with the warm Quinoa and set aside to cool.

Over medium – high heat,  pan roast your chickpeas in olive oil and toss in a light coating of paprika. Roast until the chickpeas take on a bit of a character or are crispy to taste.  Remove from flame, set aside and cool.

Sautéed Chickpeas with Olive oil and Paprika.

The next step is to sautée the mushrooms. There are two kinds of mushrooms, soggy and gray or tender and browned. The trick to having restaurant level mushrooms is to pan sear them over high heat, giving no room for them to sweat, and adding salt at the end so that the water isn’t drawn out of the mushrooms too early. Over high heat, drop in a tablespoon of olive oil and toss in your mushrooms til they start to take on color. Remove from pan, set aside and cool.

Pan seared to perfection.

Next, assemble your salad. This is where all your hard work comes together. On a bed of arugula, toss in your roasted chickpeas, sautéed mushrooms, sweet corn, and Quinoa.

Arugula Quinoa Salad

Lightly toss with a light salad dressing of your choice (vinaigrettes work best) and enjoy the meat-free fruits of your labor.

If you have left overs, you could totally skip out on “Taco Tuesday” and be an awesome mean green machine.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe. Let us know what you think!, if you tried it and any recipe or food suggestions you’d like to see next.

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