Even though we are experiencing June-uary in Seattle right now, I decided to make one of my all-time favorite quinoa salads this week, which is perfect for a summer picnic. The inspiration came from a pasta salad recipe my mom ripped out of a magazine (we think Bon Appetit), but on the whole, it is an original recipe. It made about 5 days of lunches.
(my artistic, up close and personal picture…)
1.5 cups Quinoa
3 cups water
2 cans butterbeans
1 pack cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup pinenuts
about 1/4 cup basil (like 5 stalks…)
2 green onions
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1.5 lemons
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Line a baking pan with a silpat (or foil…or something to make it non-stick). Cut the cherry tomatoes “hot dog style” (the long way) into halves. Line them up on the baking pan with the skin side down, insides facing up. Drizzle with olive oil and then lightly sprinkle with sugar and salt (I think it’s about 1 tsp of each…but enough to cover all the tomatoes). Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, but check them frequently so that they don’t burn and get to the perfect level of toasty.
Make the quinoa. (I think I’ve explained this elsewhere…make according the recipe on the box, just like you would make rice. Make sure to rinse the quinoa in a mesh strainer first to get rid of extra hulls).
Heat a little oil in a sautee pan and when it’s hot, add 2 cans of butterbeans (rinse them out first!). Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder to your taste. I like to cook the beans until they start to get a little bit crispy, flipping them every so often. (I have a weird thing about raw beans…but you definitely don’t have to cook them). I ADORE butterbeans…I think I could sit and eat a whole can cooked like this in one sitting. They absorb flavor really well and don’t have a funky taste like some beans have…
Toast your pinenuts until fragrant and slightly brown on low heat in a small sauce pan.
Chiffonade the basil (aka…chop it up into small pieces).
Cut the green onions into little pieces. (I’ll be honest…I added these for the color. They were a tasty addition, but totally optional.)
Combine the cooked quinona, butterbeans, roasted tomatoes (delicately!), pinenuts, basil, and green onions in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the zest of 1 lemon, the juice of about 1.5 lemons, olive oil (about the same amount as the lemon juice), a few healthy pinches of salt, a couple grinds of pepper, and a dash or two of garlic powder. Whisk the ingredients together. Add balsamic vinegar until it tastes just right. (Note…as mentioned before, I love my acidic flavors, so can be pretty lemony/balsamicy depending on your palate).
Pour over the quinoa mixture and enjoy!
I always find this become more delicious after sitting overnight and the butterbeans have soaked up some of the dressing flavor and the basil has rubbed off on the other ingredients. This would also be tasty with some Parmesan cheese, but it is totally unnecessary for those trying to be dairy free!