by Carrie Vaughn
I make this dish a lot in the summer because it's quick, easy, healthy, it can accommodate whatever I have on hand, and I can happily eat leftovers for days without heating up my kitchen. I don't bother measuring the ingredients--it's easier to just assemble it and then adjust to taste. Just about every ingredient is optional, so don't get hung up if you're missing something.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup french lentils
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or bouillon
- juice of one lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- black pepper
- a few cucumbers, chopped
- 3/4 cup parsley, chopped (mint and basil also work well alone or in combination)
- 3/4 cup olives (I usually use green olives), plus 2 tablespoons of the brine
- green onion, chopped
- about a cup of your choice of other vegetables, such as chopped tomatoes, 1" pieces of steamed green beans, frozen or fresh peas, lightly sautéed chunks of squash and carrots, fresh or frozen corn kernels, or chopped sweet peppers
- Put the lentils in a small, covered saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape (about 30 minutes). While they're cooking, continue the recipe. When they are finished cooking, pour them into another container or onto a plate to allow them to cool to room temperature (or at least cool enough that they don't cook your parsley and cucumbers). You can make them a day ahead.
- Put the quinoa in a small, covered saucepan with 1.5 cups water and the salt or bouillon. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the quinoa is tender but still al dente (about 10 minutes). Just like the lentils, you'll want to cool it down before assembling the salad, if you can.
- If any of the vegetables need a flash of cooking, do that now (such as the green beans, squash or carrots). Let them cool. If any of them need to be thawed, set them on the stove near your boiling pots so they warm up a bit.
- In a small jar, add the lemon juice, a splash of liquid from a jar of olives (you'll be using the olives later in the recipe), paprika, garlic, olive oil and black pepper. Close the jar and shake it until the dressing is well blended.
- Assemble all the ingredients once they are warm or room temperature, pouring half the dressing over the top. Now taste the ensemble and adjust for your preferences. Perhaps you want to use the rest of the dressing. Needs to be a bit sweeter? Add more tomatoes or corn. Needs more zing? Add more lemon or vinegar. Too heavy? Add parsley. Needs more salt? Add more olives or olive brine. Have fun!