Start with the shortcut ingredient, boil-in-bag quinoa, and the rest of the salad is determined by what’s in your fridge and pantry. No two of my quinoa or brown rice salads are the same.
One of my favorite lunches to make while working from home or to pack in lunchbox containers starts with quinoa or brown rice. Of course, I’m going to start with a shortcut and that either means Success Rice’s boil-in-bag tri-color quinoa or Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice brown rice or leftover rice.
This is how I made my lunch yesterday. Once I had my quinoa in the microwave (yep, even quicker), I headed to the fridge to see what treasures I could find. Fresh eggs from my friend Tracy in Gardendale. Score!
She said she had 27 chickens. I’m so jealous. I wonder if my neighborhood association would notice a few “bok boks” behind my house? Nah…. I grew up having to feed our chickens and I now have rooster issues after being chased up a gas tank by a Dominicker rooster with spurs 3 inches long! (I never could remember what they were called as a child so I called them Black ‘n Decker chickens.)
I quickly put 5 of them in my 3-quart Instant Pot. I promise you, once you’ve made hard cooked eggs in the Instant Pot, you will never boil them again. When you peel them, the shell literally rolls off the egg from top to bottom. Find out how to cook them in an Instant Pot here.
Next, I spot 2 grilled ears of corn from our Thursday night taco dinner. These were .25 cents each at Aldi this week so I stocked up. Using a serrated knife (It tends to grip the corn kernels better) I held each ear of corn firmly in the mixing bowl and cut off the kernels right in the bowl.
I’m off to my garden. My 15 foot by 6 foot little patch of earth is nothing compared to my mom’s vast, organic garden that seemed to produce endless rows of English peas, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes of all kinds, lettuces, horseradish, and cucumbers…and that’s just what comes to my mind first. But, I am thrilled with my daily humble harvests. Today, I can claim the little round tomatoes, basil, and parsley but the baby Roma tomatoes came from my favorite Gardendale produce market, Sid’s Market, on Tarrant Road.
Ok, so by now my quinoa is cooked and drained. My eggs are chilling out in a bowl of ice water so I see what I might want to add from my pantry. Notice I’m not running to the store for anything. If I didn’t buy it on sale this week, already have it in my pantry or left over from earlier in the week, it’s not going in the bowl. I want to encourage everyone to buy what’s on sale because what’s on sale is what’s in season.
Am I the only one obsessed with chick peas aka garbanzo beans? I seriously eat them straight out of the can. So, I’m munching on them as I try to decide between my 8 different bottles of salad dressing (at least 8). The winner was the new Food Network’s Kitchen Inspirations creamy Greek herb dressing. It was a BOGO at Publix a week or two ago so I had to try it. So that meant I must add feta. I never need an excuse to add feta to anything. Love it!.
Look how easy these FRESH egg shells roll off the hard cooked egg when cooked in the 3-quart Instant Pot. My family loves hard cooked eggs as a snack or to pack in lunches so I went ahead and peeled all five of them and put 3 of them in a plastic container and put in the fridge.
So, this is how my salad is looking so far. I gave the basil and parsley a rough chop.
What’s in your fridge and pantry that you don’t see here? Do you have avocado, canned artichokes, kalamata or green olives, pepperoncini peppers, leftover peas or rice, fresh spinach or arugula, cucumbers, radishes, or maybe matchstick carrots (They are on sale at Publix this week)? Here’s another quinoa salad recipe Mediterranean-style I made a few months ago with what I had in my fridge and pantry.
There’s plenty of protein in this salad from the chick peas, eggs, and quinoa but you could also add a little chicken or take away the eggs and chop up a cooked pork chop.
And there you have it! Ingredients aren’t fancy but it sure looks beautiful. I made it with what I had in my pantry and in the fridge. And it’s on the healthy side of the house menu!
The recipe is below but honestly, you don’t need one.
You don't really need a recipe to make a quinoa-based salad. Just open up your fridge and pantry and build one with what you already have. If you're running low on ingredients, just make a list of some of your favorite things and mix it together with your favorite cheese and a drizzle of a vinaigrette dressing.
- 1 bag Tri Color boil in bag quinoa (Success Rice brand)
- 2 hard cooked eggs, quartered
- 1 15-oz can chick peas (drained)
- 1 cup cherry, grape, or chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup corn kernels (canned or 2 ears)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley (or both)
- 1 oz feta cheese (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1/3 cup vinaigrette dressing (I used Greek herb)
Cook quinoa according to package directions and drain it.
Gently toss together all the ingredients. I like to hold out on pour on the dressing until ready to eat if I'm going to be the only one eating it or at least half will be put back in the fridge.
This is a perfect make ahead salad. If you are making it for lunches the next day, send the dressing separately in a plastic little container.