I love preparing batches of salads during the warmer months so I can enjoy them in light lunches throughout the week. Since quinoa is a complete source of protein containing all of the essential amino acids, you don’t have to worry about adding extra protein, unless you really want to. Quinoa is technically a seed, not a grain, providing both good carbs and protein.
While this gluten-free salad is complete as is, it also serves as a canvas for other ingredients if you want to make a grain-and-vegetable bowl, a quick and easy lunchtime favorite. One tasty option includes serving it on top of a handful of fresh baby spinach and sprinkling with toasted sliced almonds or sesame seeds. If you have cooked-vegetable leftovers, toss those on, too, as well as any random garnishes you have on hand, like chopped scallions, fresh cilantro or fresh-squeezed lime.
5-Ingredient Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Carrots
Yield: 8 servings, 1/2 cup each
Total Time: 45 minutes
3/4 cup dry quinoa
1 1/4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
If you have a fine strainer, place the quinoa in a medium pot and cover with cold water, soaking 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly and place back in the pot. (If you don’t have a fine strainer, you’ll need to skip the rinsing-and-draining step.)
Add the broth to the quinoa and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and set the timer for 12 minutes. At the 12-minute mark, sprinkle in the edamame in an even layer and add a pinch of salt. Cover and continue to cook 3 more minutes. Remove from heat without disturbing the lid, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Transfer the quinoa and edamame to a large plate and drizzle with the oil. Spread in an even layer with a wooden spoon, drawing lines in it to cool it quickly.
Transfer the cooled quinoa to a large bowl and add the carrots. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Serve warm or chill at least 2 hours, or until ready to serve.
Per serving: Calories 115; Fat 4 g (Saturated 0 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 55 mg; Carbohydrate 16 g; Fiber 3 g; Protein 5 g; Vitamin A 25% DV; Calcium 2% DV; Vitamin C 3% DV; Iron 7% DV
Michelle Dudash is a registered dietitian nutritionist, Cordon Bleu-certified chef consultant and the creator of Clean Eating Cooking School: Monthly Meal Plans Made Simple.