Saturday, August 7, 2010

Quinoa Zucchini Salad and My New Favorite Snack

Ah summer! I have always loved all of the fresh fruits during the summer- sweet nectarines, juicy plumbs, and all of the delicious berries. I like fresh vegetables too, but never have I liked them as much as this summer! I am attempting to grown my own tomatoes, pepper, onions, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini and squash. Some of the first zucchini, green beans, and cucumbers have been ready this week. They have been amazingly good! Zucchini is growing the fastest and so I am throwing it into everything- frittata's, bread, muffins, and now quinoa.

This afternoon I had my bi-monthly Celiac Support Group. When we meet everyone brings a gluten-free dish to share and we all just talk about the food, new GF products and recent restaurant experiences. I wasn't sure what I was going to bring- I thought about safe items like a veggie tray and fresh fruit,  but then I remembered all of the quinoa I have in the pantry. I love quinoa and I really feel like it is a food everyone should know about and at least try once. It is actually a seed and not a grain, but it cooks up a lot like couscous. It is a complete protein and I especially like it for a summer lunch salad. It can be served hot or cold and typically I make it into a tabouli. I am constantly telling patients, especially the ones with Celiac Disease about it and especially around here no one really knows what it is or what to do with it. This was a perfect opportunity to make people try it! I didn't have enough tomatoes, cucumber, or olives to make my usual tabouli, so I used what I have in abundance- zucchini.

I decided to cook the zucchini in a cast iron skillet so that it would get brown, grilling it would also work great. I had some garbanzo beans handy, so I roasted those in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. They were incredible! Roasted in the oven, the skins become browned and crispy while the center becomes soft and creamy. Amazing! The paprika also gives them a smoky flavor and they almost didn't make it into the salad because I kept popping them into my mouth. This is going to become a new staple snack of mine I think. Those combined, with the cooked zucchini, quinoa, lemon and fresh herbs really turned about to be delicious. Some feta or goat cheese crumbles would also have been great with this. This could be served warm or chilled, but the flavors do develop more after sitting for several hours.If you have not tried quinoa yet, this might be the recipe to try out this summer. If you have tried quinoa, please share how you like to serve it. Enjoy!

Quinoa Zucchini Salad

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups chicken broth
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and dried
1 medium zucchini, cut into 3/4 inch coins
2 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slices or diced
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
2 sprigs fresh mint, chopped
handful of fresh basil, chopped
olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
juice from 1/2 of one lemon
smoked paprika

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place garbanzo beans on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika and toss to combine. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes or until browned, turning half-way through.

2. Combine chicken broth and quinoa in a small pot. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with fork and allow to cool slightly.

3. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in cast iron skillet or non-stick pan. Saute garlic until aromatic and starting to brown. Add zucchini and cook on both sides until bowned, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool. Cut coins into quarters.

3. Combine quinoa, zucchini, garlic and beans. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Add zest, herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine. Chill for several hours or overnight.

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