Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Bell Pepper & Pine Nuts

Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Bell Pepper & Pine Nuts  (22) wm

Quinoa is an ancient grain from the Andean region of South American, including Peru.  While my husband and I were in Peru last month we actually didn’t eat any quinoa – our guide for the Choquequirao trek said that most of the quinoa is exported out of the country and what remains is expensive.  While at home in Colorado we eat a lot of quinoa, mainly in salads because it’s not so great on its own.  This is a quick and easy salad, perfect for those warm nights.

Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Bell Pepper & Pine Nuts  (3) wm

Serves 4-6

time: roughly 40 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked per package directions

cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/2  orange bell pepper, sliced in bite-size pieces

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in bite-size pieces

green onion, sliced thinly

cucumber, peeled and sliced in bite-size pieces

kalamata olives, sliced in half

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

black pepper

kosher salt

feta cheese

pine nuts

 

Directions:

1) Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions – remove from heat and let cool.

2) After washing the vegetables cut them and set aside on the cutting board.   Slice the kalamata olives in half.

3) In a serving bowl combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper and salt.  Stir, and add additional olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper or salt if needed.

4) Toast the pine nuts to a golden brown.

5) Add the quinoa and vegetables to the olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixture and stir well to combine.

6) Top with the toasted pine nuts and feta cheese (if you won’t be eating all of the quinoa salad just add the pine nuts and feta cheese to each plate).

 

 

Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Bell Pepper & Pine Nuts  (40) wm

Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Bell Pepper & Pine Nuts  (6) wm

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Chocolate Quinoa Cake (16) WM

You’d never guess what’s in this amazing chocolate cake (except if you read the title of this recipe 🙂 ).  Yep, it’s quinoa.  You can’t even tell at all.  It’s probably one of the most moist chocolate cakes that I have had.  My sister is celiac and came into town so I made this cake so that she’d have dessert at my friend’s birthday party.  For some reason the cake came out of the pan in two pieces, so I made what was supposed to be a two-layer cake into a “dirt cake” (I’m not sure what else to call it, but it’s like the “dirt cake” I had as a kid minus the gummy worms).

I am going to try making this recipe again and hope that I have better luck with the cake coming out of the pans so that I can actually have a beautiful looking layered cake 🙂  I added the whipped cream that was supposed to be the frosting into the mess of cake and also made vanilla pudding.  This doesn’t keep that well so eat it the day you make it (and refrigerate covered until you do).

Chocolate Quinoa Cake (6) WM

Chocolate Quinoa Cake Ingredients:

1/2 cup dried quinoa, cooked to package directions (plus a tad bit more water) & cooled

1/3 cup milk

4 large eggs

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Cake Directions:

1) Cook the quinoa, make sure that it is completely cooked and not crunchy at all.  Set aside to cool.

2) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8-inch round pans, line the bottom with parchment paper (I think I skipped this step because I used Wilton’s cake release, don’t skip this step).

3) Blend together the milk, eggs & vanilla in a food processor.

4) Add the cooked & cooled quinoa and butter to the milk, eggs & vanilla mixture in the food processor.  Blend until completely smooth – you do not want chunks of quinoa.

5) Wisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Then stir in the quinoa mixture from the food processor.

6) Pour the cake mixture evenly into your two pans.

7) Bake the cake for about 30 minutes / until it is cooked through.

8) If the cake comes out of the pan in one pieces (!! I hope yours does !!) skip the vanilla pudding step.  Or, break your cake up in a decorative dish if you want to add the vanilla pudding.

 

Vanilla Pudding Ingredients:

2 cups milk

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon butter

 

Vanilla Pudding Directions:

1) While the cake is baking, heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it bubbles – be sure that you don’t over cook or burn the milk!  Turn down to low.

2) Stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a bowl.  Pour the mixture into the heated milk a little bit at a time, stirring during each addition.

3) Continue to cook the pudding until it thickens just enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Do not boil!!

4) Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and butter.

5) Pour into a bowl and let cool in your refrigerator.

 

Whipped Cream Ingredients:

small container of heavy whipping cream

sugar

vanilla

 

Whipped Cream Directions:

1) With the wisk attachment beat the heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form.

2) Gently stir in the sugar & vanilla to taste – don’t add too much sugar as this will be going into the already sweet chocolate cake with the vanilla pudding.

 

Cake Assembly:

1) Pour the cooled vanilla pudding and whipped cream into the dish with the crumbled chocolate quinoa cake.

2) Gently stir together until it’s all combined; serve chilled the same day.

Chocolate Quinoa Cake (8) WM

Balsamic Vinegar & Honey Chicken Skewers

Balsamic and Honey Chicken Skewers (9) WM

My car needed new front brakes so I took it to the mechanic today, and brought my bike to ride the 6 miles home.  The guy at the front desk asked if I needed a ride, I said ‘no, I’m going to ride my bike’ – he replied with, ‘next time you can use one of ours!’.  How very cool (and very Boulder) that my mechanic has several bikes that their customers can use!!

Onto this recipe.  As I’ve been saying in post after post, it’s summer so I have been grilling & using summer fruits and veggies – this recipe is no exception.  The balsamic vinegar & honey added a nice light touch of flavor to the chicken, and the quinoa & strawberry, goat cheese and nut salad were both a perfect compliment.

Balsamic and Honey Chicken Skewers (4) WM

serves 4

time: about 1 hour (marinade the night before)

Chicken Marinade Ingredients:

2.5 good sized boneless & skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced, plus more for garnish
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Salad Ingredients:
strawberries
spinach
goat cheese
mixed seasoned/sugared nuts
I also used a cup of dried quinoa, cook according to package directions.

Directions:

  1. The night before.  Cut off any extra fat from the chicken breasts and then cut into 1 inch chunks and place in a gallon ziplock bag.
  2. Mix all of the remaining ingredients together and pour into the gallon bag with the chicken.  Mush around and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The day of.  Soak 3-4 wooden skewers in a shallow dish filled with water while getting the grill, quinoa and salad ready.
  4. Right before the grill is ready, thread the chicken pieces onto the water-soaked wooden skewers.
  5. Place the chicken skewers on the grill and cook until no longer pink, turning over so all sides get charred.
  6. Wash and slice a good few handfuls of ripe strawberries, place on top of washed spinach.  Crumble goat cheese and throw a handful of mixed seasoned/sugared nuts on top
  7. Eat with your favorite beer, because it’ll make it that much better!

 

Balsamic and Honey Chicken Skewers (18) WM

Chicken with Honey Chipotle Sauce

Chicken with Honey Chipotle Sauce (2) WM

Chicken with Honey Chipotle Sauce (1) WM

serves 4

Honey Chipotle Sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil (a little under 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup peanut oil

one can of chipotles in adobo sauce, chop chipotle chiles (less than a whole can if you don’t want a lot of spice)

3-4 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

1 tablespoon regular yellow mustard

salt & pepper

Other Ingredients:

2 large chicken breasts, cut into thick strips

1 1/2 – 2 cups uncooked quinoa, with enough water to cook per direction

1 avocado, sliced

cherry tomatoes, sliced lengthwise

cilantro, chopped finely

2 limes

green onions, sliced

cranberries

Chicken with Honey Chipotle Sauce (7) WM

Directions:

1. Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl, add the sliced chicken stir and cover and let sit for at least 2 hours.

2. Cook the quinoa per the package directions.

3. Fork the chicken into a hot skillet and cook (or alternatively on a grill), pour the marinade into a saucepan and heat/bring to a soft boil.

4. Slice all of the veggies.

5. Once the quinoa and chicken are cooked, spoon the quinoa onto each dish, place the chicken on top of the quinoa, spoon some of the heated marinade of the chicken and sprinkle with the vegetables.  Enjoy!

Chicken with Honey Chipotle Sauce (6) WM

Quinoa, Cucumber, Olive, and Feta salad

quinoa salad WM

I love fresh summer salads, and quinoa is a great base for various types of salads with lots of yummy ingredients – a simple olive oil dressing is all that it needs.

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa (2 cups water)

2 lemons, juiced

3 tablespoons olive oil

red onion

green onion

half cucumber

feta cheese

olive mix from the olive bar at the grocery store

garlic (I used marinated and roasted/marinated garlic from the olive bar at the grocery store)

tomatoes – red and yellow – sliced

salt and pepper to taste

quinoa salad 2 WM

look at this great olive and garlic mixture!

Directions:

1. Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions; let cool.

2. Juice the lemons.  Slice the red onion, green onion, cucumber, the olive and garlic mix, and tomatoes.

3. Combine the lemon juice and olive oil and pour over the cooled quinoa. Add the sliced veggies and olive/garlic, salt and pepper to taste.

4. Serve cold with BBQ or any other main dish!