Warm Italian Quinoa Salad

Warm Italian Quinoa SaladOkay, it’s January so everyone is on a health kick.  Well, at least for a few days anyway.  I suppose some people even last a few weeks or the whole month, but personally, I tend to not make New Year’s resolutions based on food.  I’d rather eat what I like all year and just find recipes that my family and I love to eat that also happen to be healthy.  Mind you, I’m really good at finding recipes that aren’t so good for us that we eat too. 🙂  Ah… it’s easy to say moderation, but harder to apply it.  After my kids stayed with their grandma for a few days last summer she did comment that my kids asked her what was for dessert every single night after dinner.  Ooops.  Guilty.  We like dessert at our house.  Mike likes it.  The kids like it.  I like it and I like to make it.  Gulp.

But on a skinnier note, this January I’m going to think of as the “Quinoa Craze” month.  I feel like Quinoa has been talked about the last few years and it’s just starting to be available in your everyday grocery store and lucky for me, even Sam’s Club and Costco carry it.  On the World’s Healthiest Foods website it said that 2013 was recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa.”  Which you know, figures because I’m always late for everything (which should probably be on my list of resolutions in some form…)  This month my goal is to post at least one recipe a week that has quinoa in it.  Quinoa is known as a superfood because it is so nutrient rich.   It is a complete protein, contains “good fats” like omega-3 and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients all of which combined can help lower risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.  Basically, it’s way good for you, it’s gluten-free, and it retains nutritional value even after cooking it!  It’s a grain, but it reminds me more of pasta or rice because it absorbs the flavors of whatever it is cooked in, which is why in this recipe I cook it in chicken broth to add to the flavor.  (This also means you can sneak it into stuff that your kids are eating because it adopts the other flavors and they won’t even know it’s there.  No, I’m not deceitful, I’m a smart mom thank you very much.) 🙂

Warm Italian Quinoa Salad 2

I experimented with this recipe in September.  I love it because it’s fast enough to make for a quick lunch, but it saves really well so that I can make Mike and I lunch to have for the next couple days.  And let’s face it, grabbing a tupperware container in the morning is a whole lot easier than actually making a sandwich or something before work.  We’ve tried and liked a bunch of different varieties of quinoa salad, but I’m posting this first because it’s mine.  🙂  I don’t have to reference anyone else at the bottom and I’m happy about that.  Yea, me!

Warm Italian Quinoa Salad

IngredientsWarm Italian Quinoa Salad 4

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 14.5 oz can chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • 1 14.5 oz can Italian diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning or Herbs de Provence
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese for topping salad

Directions

  • Rinse one cup of quinoa and then pour into a small saucepan.  Add the can of chicken broth.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Let boil for one minute and then cover and turn down so the broth is simmering.  Allow it to simmer for about fifteen minutes and then turn off the heat, but allow it to remain covered.  You wi ll know it’s done when the quinoa has absorbed the chicken broth.
  • Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil around a large frying pan on medium heat.  Add onions and sauté for about two minutes.  Then add garlic for another minute.  Add zucchini and season the mixture with salt and pepper.  (I always use fresh cracked pepper.)  Cook vegetables for another two minutes.
  • Pour can of diced tomatoes into the frying pan with the sautéed vegetables and stir.  Add 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning and basil and mix.  Once the mixture begins to simmer, it’s done!
  • Add the quinoa to the tomato-veggie pan and mix well.
  • Garnish each plate with parmesan cheese and more fresh basil on top!

Notes- Serves 2-4.  I like my veggies to still have some crunch.  To me, there’s nothing worse than a soggy vegetable.  So if you prefer soft vegetables you might want to sauté them a little longer and/or simmer them with the tomatoes for a tad longer.

Recipe by Life’s Sweet Seasons

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