Fuel for school: Quinoa for the soul

Jenn Takaoka (photo)

Jenn Takaoka (photo)

Spring has finally sprung! And so has hay fever and finals season. With papers, presentations and exams looming in this last month of school, cooking is the last thing on anyone’s mind. In my hunt for fast and minimal effort meals, one of the healthiest options I found was quinoa salad. It’s a fairly versatile meal that’s easy to whip up with whatever veggies you have on hand. It’s gluten free and can easily be vegetarian or vegan. And it’s a source of fiber and protein to tide you over through those last few hours of cramming. Quinoa is your new best friend.

My mom sent me this recipe that’s always been fairly popular not just in my family, but with our friends. The kind of lunch you had to pack extra of for your friends in high school so they’d stop stealing it out of your container. With lemon-herb dressing, a medley of beans, fresh peppers and tomatoes, with lots of crumbled feta, what’s not to love? This is actually a pasta salad recipe, but it tastes even better with quinoa. It’s a healthy study break worth the healthy meal. And as a bonus, it’ s also easy to double for tons of leftovers that will save you from all the cooking you won’t be doing for the other six days of the week. Sharing is also an excellent way to ensure your roommates love you.

Italian Quinoa Bean Salad (Inspired from a recipe by Rose Reisman)

250ml (1 cup) of quinoa (rinsed or pre-rinsed)

540 mL can of mixed beans (I used Unico Bean medley)

550 mL (1 pint container) of cherry tomatoes

1/2 a small red onion or 1 large shallot

1 bell pepper, any colour

125ml (1/2 cup) feta cheese

Handful of freshly chopped basil or parsley (or a mix of both)

75ml (1/4 cup) of fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon’s worth)

45ml (3 tbsp) olive oil

15ml (1 tbsp) balsamic vinegar

1 clove of garlic, minced

12ml (2 1/2 tsp) of dried basil

7ml (1 1/2 tsp) of dried oregano

Cook the quinoa in two cups of water via rice cooker or stove top (bring quinoa to boil then cover and simmer for about 30 min or until all liquid is absorbed). Set aside to cool.

While quinoa is cooking, dice the peppers, onion/shallot, half the tomatoes and rinse the beans. Place in large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, vinegar, garlic, and dried herbs.

Add cooled quinoa to the veggie bowl with fresh basil/parsley and feta and mix until evenly combined. Dress the salad a few minutes before serving.

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