Hey guys! Wow, I feel like it has been forever since I have posted a recipe, or any content for that matter. I love writing in this space and sharing my favorite recipes and sports nutrition information with you guys, but I guess you could say that this season has been a super busy one. In August I traveled almost every weekend (Seattle, Florida, and West Texas) and my schedules seemed packed in-between with unpacking from the last trip, prepping for the next trip and getting all of my work done and wanting to still spend time with friends and family! I know I’m not alone in this feeling. I’m sure some, if not all, of you guys have been there before as well!
Anyway, I find myself with a little time to sit and write and so I want to share this easy recipe that I put together months and months ago! I made it originally as a side dish and then saved the leftovers for lunches. You could use it for both a side dish or entree, but lately I’ve been prepping it and using it for a cold grain salad for lunch. Sometimes I add a hardboiled egg or two on top or some grilled chicken if I have it, but often times I pack it as-is and pair it with a fruit and a Greek yogurt for a boost of protein, calcium and a few more food groups (if you have ever worked with me, you know I’m all about varying those food groups in a meal!).
I came up with this recipe because I wanted an easy vegetarian lunch option. I like making quinoa because it’s high in protein, has lots of fiber and it’s super quick to prepare. However, so many quinoa dishes, in my opinion, end up really bland and blah. So I realized in order to make a dish using quinoa more flavorful, I needed to add the flavor to the actual quinoa, not just the dish itself. That’s where I decided to try incorporating a light dressing with it, something that would not overpower the dish (like a thick creamy sauce) but that would instead enhance and complement the other elements of the dish without being super obvious. If you know me, you know I’m a fan of Dijon mustards and alllllwwwaaaayyys have a few varieties in my fridge. So, I whisked together this easy vinaigrette and, I have to say, the dressing is what MAKES the dish. However you may alter this dish, DO NOT leave out the dressing! This is one of my new favorite vegetarian lunch options and I often find myself quickly throwing it together on a Sunday afternoon to have ready to go for when the week ahead gets busy!
I hope you give this recipe a shot. Definitely try it if you’re a vegetarian, but even if you’re not, make it a side dish at the dinner table or make it a base for your chicken or fish. I’m telling you, it takes no time at all. I think this recipe takes me about 45 minutes to make from prep to plate (or packed in the fridge), but because a lot of this is done in the oven or on the stove, you’re freed up to tackle some other chores around the house. PLUS, you’ll have a good amount to last you a few days or through the week, depending on how many people are sharing it and how you’re serving it.
It’s packed with nutrition and a great source of lasting energy to keep you going during busy days whether you’re an athlete or a busy parent trying to keep up with your busy athlete’s crazy schedule!
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
SUMMER QUINOA SALAD WITH BLACK BEANS & FETA
Makes about 5 cups
3 cups sliced raw squash, sliced about 1/4 - inch thick
3 cups sliced raw zucchini, sliced about 1/4 - inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt + pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked quinoa
One 15 oz can of black beans, drained & rinsed
2 tablespoons crumbled feta
1/4 cup Dijon vinaigrette (see recipe below)
For Dijon Vinaigrette:
Makes about 1/4 cup of dressing
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Toss sliced squash & zucchini in the tablespoon of olive oil and the salt and pepper.
Spread out evenly on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet (sometimes I grease the pan with a little more of the olive oil or with cooking spray before laying out the squash. Just gives it a little more protection from having the squash stick to the pan during roasting).
Bake the squash at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through to make sure cooked evenly on both sides (I like to make sure both sides get a little browned).
5. While the squash is cooking, cook the quinoa according to package directions. Once the quinoa is done cooking, allow to sit and cool slightly while the veggies finish cooking.
6. Meanwhile, whisk together the ingredients for the Dijon dressing.
7. After everything is cooked, toss the quinoa, veggies, feta and black beans in a large mixing bowl with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
8. Drizzle the Dijon dressing over the salad and toss to disperse the dressing evenly throughout the quinoa and veggies.
8. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for lunches and dinners later in the week!
SERVE IT AGAIN!
One thing I love about this dish is that it can make a hearty vegetarian entree OR you can use it as a base for a delicious piece of fish or grilled chicken OR you can serve it up as a side at dinner with friends and family. You can also add additional roasted veggies to this if there is something you particularly like!
This quinoa salad is hearty and filling. The quinoa offers quality carbohydrates, fiber and it’s a grain with a higher protein content! The beans offer extra protein plus some iron, zinc and more quality carbohydrate. The summer squash adds great color plus additional vitamins and the feta adds a little fat, calcium and protein (although there is just a sprinkle of feta in the recipe so these nutrients are not super significant). Then to top it off, you have healthy monounsaturated fats from the olive oil to fight inflammation, promote satiety and help the body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the meal!