A delicious, healthy and texture rich salad salad made with the freshest farmers market finds! Market Quinoa Salad with Fresh Mozzarella is vegetarian or vegan + gluten free
Are y’all getting enough salad this summer? I can’t seem to get enough. It’s this heat wave we’ve recently had up here in the Pacific Northwest. I know I’m a wuss, and I am not complaining, but we’ve maxed out at around 76F! And that’s hot enough!
It’s a far cry from my days in Texas where hot meant it was going to be at least 100F. I’ll take my 76F degrees, thank you very much (but it still feels hot). This market quinoa salad with fresh mozzarella is sure to cool you off, no matter how you define ‘hot’!
Quinoa is a delicious way to incorporate superfoods into your diet. Quiona, a protein-packed powerhouse, is a complete protein. This means that it includes all nine essential amino acids, which is a good thing for those limiting or excluding animal protein.
The interesting thing about quinoa is that it is not a grain; rather, it is a seed of a plant that is related to spinach and Swiss chard. It is relatively inexpensive, especially when bought in bulk, and is widely available.
The peas and zucchini came from my CSA share, and the cherry tomatoes and onion, from a farm in the lush and productive Skagit Valley. I love shelling peas. I timed myself this time to see how long it would take me to shuck 1 lb of shelling peas: 9 minutes. And this was with my sweet Claire Cat telling me she was hungry, a big distraction!
Blanching the peas yields a beautiful, vibrant green and makes them smooth and silky. If you are unable to find fresh peas, you can sub frozen peas. I find that frozen peas are a great choice in many dishes because they hold their color and flavor so well. Be sure to blanch the frozen just as you would the fresh.
Fresh mozzarella is a funny thing. It comes in many different sizes, logs, balls and pre-sliced logs, to suit your desire. Ovolini is a variety for slicing and a good choice for Caprese salads and pizza. Bocconcini and Ciliegine come in smaller, spherical forms with Ciliegine being the smaller of the two and is about the size of a small cherry tomato.
Ciliegine is the variety I used in this recipe due to its small size. I quartered the little mozzarellas, in order to distribute the texture and flavor more evenly throughout the salad.
Y’all know how I like salads that hold up in the fridge for several days. Well… this one is not one of those salads. This must be enjoyed the day it’s made. Why? Zucchini is a high water content veggie, as are the tomatoes. So once the salt hits these veggies and it’s had time to set… it starts to get a bit soggy.
I’m not saying it won’t taste good on the second day; it just won’t be as fresh. So I advise to enjoy this salad the same day.
Market Quinoa Salad with Fresh Mozzarella
A delicious, healthy and protein packed salad made with the freshest farmers market finds! (vegetarian or vegan + gf)
For the Salad:
- 3/4 C Quinoa white, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 C Water
- 1 C Cherry Tomatoes halved
- 1/4 C Purple Onion small dice, about 1/4 of an onion
- 1 lb Shelling Peas shelled, yielding about 1 C shelled (1 C frozen will work here too)
- 1 C Yellow Bell Pepper diced, about 1 pepper
- 1 C Red Bell Pepper diced, about 1 pepper
- 1 1/2 C Zucchini diced, about 1 zucchini
- 1/8 C fresh Parsley chopped
- 3/4 C fresh Ciliegine Mozzarella quartered (omit for vegan option)
- 1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 10 grinds of Pepper
- 3 springs of Fresh Thyme for garnish
For the Dressing:
- 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Garlic minced
- 1 1/2 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Prepared Mustard
- 1/2 tsp Oregano dried
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice
For the Salad:
In a medium saucepan bring water to a boil. Place rinsed quinoa in boiling water, turn burner to medium low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and stir, making sure all the water is absorbed. Cover again and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and pop in fridge to cool (for about 20 minutes).
While the quinoa is cooking, shell your peas (or measure out the frozen peas). Set aside. Fill a small pot half way with water and bring to a boil. Prepare a small bowl by filling it 1/2 way with water and a few handfuls of ice. Be sure a mesh strainer can fit in the bowl with the cooked peas submerged. Blanch the peas by placing the shelled peas (or frozen) in the boiling water and blanch for one minute. Strain then plunge peas in the ice bath to stop cooking. Drain and set aside.
Prepare the onions, bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh parsley by chopping and dicing, placing each in a large bowl where all the mixing will happen. Add the peas and season with salt and pepper.
Remove the cooled quinoa from the refrigerator and place in the mixing bowl with all the veggies, sea salt and pepper, thyme, parsley and mozzarella. Use a large wooden spoon to mix all the ingredients throughly.
For the Dressing:
In a small bowl, add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, and oregano. Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil. You want even distribution of ingredients, or a good emulsification.
Pour the dressing over the salad and mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Garnish with fresh thyme leaves (optional). Enjoy on the day made for freshest taste.
Recipe adapted from Quinoa; The Everyday Superfood.
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