Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad

It’s been warm for the past two days, which would be exciting if the weather channel didn’t have that 10-day-forecast of anxiety available. So while it broke 50 degrees (60 yesterday!) for three days in a row, I know it’s fleeting, with promises of colder, rainy weather later this week. I also had no opportunity to enjoy a spare minute of warmth with travel and working late, so I’m hardly feeling like Spring is around the corner. It’s nice wearing a different coat, though, and not freezing walking to my car. But, man, everybody is talking about the weather these days. Maybe because we’re all desperate for it to change. Onto other topics- salad. Vegetables in salad. Spring vegetables in salad. Because agreeable weather or not, it seems as though lighter, brighter vegetables are finally coming into season, and that is something to truly enjoy. My grocery list is now just a list of various vegetables, with Greek yogurt and eggs tacked on to the end. It’s my favorite. So I wanted to use these vegetables in a way that would truly spotlight them. Vegetables don’t need to be relegated to the side of the plate, shadowed by a hunk of meat and barely seasoned. They can and should be the center, the flavor of the dish! This salad is absolutely bursting with veggies, which may or may not seem natural to you, but it tastes so cohesive and delicious. Holding the asparagus, broccoli, and radishes together are the quinoa and a quick and easy lemon vinaigrette. I’ve been eating this for lunch all week (with a side of Greek yogurt- yum [by the way, some Bonne Maman jam swirled into Fage is the. best. snack/lunch side. ever.]).

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Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad

Serves 4

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 cups chicken stock

2 stalks broccoli, chopped into small florets

12-15 asparagus spears, chopped into 1 inch segments

3-4 spring onions, chopped into 1 inch segments

4-5 radishes, sliced thinly into rounds

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup chicken stock

Lemon vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Dash of freshly cracked black pepper

Romaine lettuce, sliced/ chopped

Goat cheese, crumbled, to serve

Hard-boiled egg, diced/ crumbled, to serve

To prepare the quinoa, add to a hot pot over medium-high heat. Toast the quinoa for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly, until lightly toasted and fragrant. Add 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the liquid is fully absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. Stir to fluff and set aside.

Prepare the vegetables. In a large sautee pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. olive oil. Sautee the asparagus and broccoli until softening and lightly browning, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock and allow to boil, steaming the vegetables. Continue to cook until the liquid has boiled off, about another 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon vinaigrette. Add the cooked broccoli and asparagus, as well as the radish rounds and spring onions. Mix to coat. Add the cooked quinoa and stir to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

To serve, add the chopped Romaine lettuce to a plate. Top with the spring vegetable quinoa salad. Sprinkle on goat cheese and/or a chopped hard-boiled egg for additional protein to round out the meal. Serve with a small side for a complete lunch.

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This isn’t exactly dinner, necessarily; but would be a great side or main lunch component. The lemony spring flavor and fresh, bright vegetables are so inviting with the nutty quinoa holding everything together. This is how I like to eat salad.

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Buffalo Quinoa Burgers

So this is a new experienxe, blogging on my phone from a coffee shop (my favorite- Ipsento in Bucktown). I forgot my iPad, so it’s especially inconvenient. But I have this Nutella Mocha here, and I’m not thinking it’s so bad. I made these burgers for the first time a few weeks ago, and actually made them as “bites,” which was directed according to the recipe I was following. They were absolutely delicious, served atop a bed of butter lettuce and other salad accoutrements (Is that possibly spelled correctly? Will spell check function appropriately on my phone?). However, these quinoa bites were kind of unproportionately inconvenient to prepare and make, requiring three rounds of pan sautéing and individual dips into buffalo sauce. I thought to myself: hey, this would be way easier as a patty, still served with ranch and crispy greens, but also with a delicious toasted bun!?! And it was so. I tweaked the general recipe some, adjusted the buffalo sauce proportions, and improvised my own “ranch” dressing (quotes because I’m not sure if it’s real ranch without mayonnaise or buttermilk). These burgers turned out phenomenal- perfectly crisped edges, wonderfully buffalo-sauced, and cooled just a touch by the ranch on top. To be honest, while I ate these all week simply with sauce and arugula, my favorite serving style was with a buttered, toasted bun and a runny egg on top. But, in all fairness, that’s always the best way to serve anything.

These are a great spin on a classic weeknight meal, and, I think, tastier than buffalo chicken. The quinoa just absorbs the flavor better. Top as you like, always with a fresh roll (toasted).

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Buffalo Quinoa Burgers

Based off of this recipe

Serves 6

Homemade buffalo sauce

  • 1/3 cup hot sauce of choice (I’ve used Frank’s and Cholula)
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • Dash of red chili flake

Quinoa burgers

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup cannellini (or other white) beans
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup homemade buffalo sauce

Homemade ranch dressing

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon, squeezed)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning (or a mixture of dried thyme, oregano, and parsley)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. olive oil

Soft, fluffy buns

Arugula or other greens to serve

To prepare the ranch dressing, add all ingredients to a blender, mason jar, or bowl. Blend, shake, or whisk accordingly until all ingredients are combined. Place in the refrigerator to cool until ready to use.

To prepare the buffalo sauce, melt butter in a large bowl. Whisk together with extra virgin olive oil. Whisk in the hot sauce and spices. Set aside for later use.

To prepare the buffalo quinoa burgers, first prepare 2 cups of cooked quinoa. To make approximately 2 cups of cooked quinoa, heat 1 cup of water to boiling in a medium pot. Add 1/2 cup of dried quinoa to the boiling water, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer. Simmer quinoa for 10-15 minutes until opened and soft.

In a large bowl, mix the two cups of quinoa with 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs. In a food processor, blend the cannellini beans to a puree. Add the pureed beans to the bowl with the bread crumbs and quinoa. Add the egg, whisked, and 1/4 cup of the prepared buffalo sauce. Stir thoroughly to combine until the mixture is wet but firms into clumps in your hand (think hamburger patty consistency). Add more bread crumbs or buffalo sauce as needed to get it right.

In order to make the 6 patties, I try to level the quinoa mixture in the bowl with a spoon. Score the mixture with the spoon down the middle, then score 3 lines perpendicular to the first. Grab the scored area to form the patties.

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the buffalo quinoa patties and cook for 5 minutes per side, covering the pan (except to flip). Remove from the pan and place on a cooling rack. Drizzle the remaining prepared buffalo sauce over the patties. The buffalo quinoa patties will easily keep in the refrigerator for 1 week. Alternatively, you could cool the patties then freeze.

To prepare your burger, toast the buns in butter on a sauté pan (or toast then butter). Add your buffalo quinoa patty and top with a good spoonful of ranch dressing and your greens. If you want to throw a fried, over-easy egg on there, I’ll applaud you for your good taste.

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Look at that egg, the yolk begging to drip all over the burger, the plate, and your face. If you like buffalo-style anything, I promise you’ll love these. And better, you can enjoy them all week… or anytime, really.