Quinoa Avocado Salad…cool, easy and delicious

Once again inspired by what I found at the farmers market, here is a great, cool summer salad-a side dish or a meal in itself. It seems each week when I come home from the farmers market some new idea comes to mind based on the fruits and vegies that I have found. I must say it is pretty easy in the summer with all of the amazing produce that is available to create delicious, healthy meals.

If you haven’t cooked with quinoa before you are in for a surprise. It cooks really fast, nice in the hotter summer months, it packs more protein than any other grain and it tastes really good. I liked the coolness of the avocados with fresh herbs and a touch of cayenne and curry for a bit of a kick.

To cook quinoa-rinse and strain (using a fine strainer) 2-3 times. In a saucepan put the strained quinoa, a little bit of water is ok, and turn on the heat to medium and cook for a few minutes till all of the water is evaporated and you begin to smell the quinoa-give it a stir or two while it is cooking. Then add water. I use 1 cup of quinoa to 1 1/2 cups water. Add a pinch or two of salt bring to a boil and then cover and simmer. It should be cooked in about 12-18 minutes. Look for small holes to appear on the surface, and no water should be visible.

While the quinoa cooks you can slice or cube a few avocados, depending on how much you are making-but be generous. I had found bacon avocados on special at the farmers market when I made this the first time, but any variety will work.

Chop a large tomato, heirloom if possible or maybe you are lucky enough to be growing your own, or two or three smaller ones. Cherry tomatoes could also be good, but slice them in half so that the juice from them flavors the quinoa.

Combine the avocado and tomato in a bowl, add a handful of roughly chopped fresh herbs (I used basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, thyme and a bit of mint), salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix this well.

When the quinoa is cooked, stir it into another large bowl to cool it, toss it a bit to remove some of the heat. Once relatively cool add the avocado and tomato mixture. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and olive oil as needed.

This is the basic recipe. Here are some additions that you could incorporate depending on your taste:

Flax seeds, your favorite nuts or sunflower seeds, raisins, currants, chopped apple, papaya or mango.

When I made it I also added a small amount of cayenne and Whole Foods Pondicherry curry powder-it was nice to have a bit of a bite against the cool avocado and tomato.

You can serve this as a side dish, or put a scoop on top of fresh salad greens. It also is great wrapped in a tortilla, or you could wrap it in a large chard or lettuce leaf. Be sure to make enough so that you have leftovers.

Who says eating well isn’t healthy and good for the planet.