Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Quinoa Caprisi Salad

I have an abundance of tomatoes in my garden right now. Most of them are cherry tomatoes - I planted yellow, orange, red, and a pear variety of cherry tomatoes. Right now the yellow and oranges are going crazy - the orange ones are my new favorite! They are very sweet and the perfect size to cut in half for a salad.

I was trying to figure out a way to use them that would have some substance to it.

You know, tomatoes that would fill us up.

I started thinking about my favorite way to use fresh garden tomatoes - a tomato and basil salad. Usually I just chop tomatoes, chop basil, toss them with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Sometimes I add mozzarella cheese, sometimes not. How could I add some heft to this salad but still maintain the same flavors?

Quinoa! This is my family's new favorite grain. I've been experimenting with putting it in soups and stews. It doesn't have much flavor on its own, making it perfect to add heft without changing the flavor.

I made some quinoa but all I had left was about 3/4 cup - not enough to fill us all up, so I added some couscous. When the quinoa and couscous were cooked I rinsed them cool water so it wouldn't cook the tomatoes. Then I tossed in a lot of halved cherry tomatoes. You could use chopped big tomatoes but seed them so the juice doesn't drown the salad. I also added half of a thinly sliced zucchini - I have lots of those in my garden right now, too.

Then I added a few tablespoons of chopped fresh basil - I have a lot of that in my garden, too. Then I added a tablespoon or two of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a generous sprinkle of salt and some pepper. Toss it all together and serve.

You could add mozzarella cheese to this and it would be fabulous. You could also add chickpeas or cannelli beans. I added a Boca chicken patty (a vegetarian chicken patty that we keep on hand for veggie girl) and had it for lunch today and it was fabulous. I've also wrapped it in a tortilla, added a Boca patty and hit it with a drizzle of ranch and it was to die for!

This salad would travel well in a container or in a wrap. With the quinoa, you get plenty of protein and all you would need to round out the meal was some fruit or a homemade chewy granola bar and you'd be set.

The most amazing thing about this salad is that everyone liked it - except my youngest. Kaden hates tomatoes so it wasn't even going to be tried. Well, he did try the quinoa part and was ok with that but he didn't love it.

This I could send for my 6th grader's lunch (she loves tomatoes), and Hubby and I would certainly take it for lunches. I keeps well in the fridge so I could just make extra to take the next day.

For more portable nutritious ideas, visit Nourishing Gourmet this week. She's having a Nourishing Portable Food Challenge, I hoping to get lots of great ideas.




Sarah said...

Yum! Looks great! I make a similar salad to this only with lentils, but I would love to try yours!


Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home said...

That sounds really nice. I'm about to be up to my eyeballs in garden fresh cherry tomatoes, so any recipes to use them up are welcome!

Kimi Harris said...

I love quinoa and my husband even requested that I come up with some grain salads for his lunch so this has inspired me. Thanks for being part of the carnival!