Quinoa has become part of an easy meal for us lately. There was a time when I would never imagine using quinoa as it was imported but now as I get locally grown quinoa I feel like including it more in our everyday meals.
But wait, there are more reasons why we are eating more quinoa these days. One, I order a fairly big bulk of quinoa from the farmer I buy it from and I have to consume it and two, it cooks faster than other millets or grains. Convenience wins.
So this kind of salad meals get ready in about 15 minutes. The carrots are grated while the quinoa cooks and the salad dressing is whipped up while it cools down. I sometimes cook quinoa in a larger batch and refrigerate for more convenience.
Who says convenience and healthy mindful eating cannot function together?
Mixing the salad together is a one step process once the carrots are grated. And once made, the salad stays good for 3-4 hours at room temperature.That is the fun when you don't use leafy greens in a salad, the nuts and raisins help prevent this salad from getting soggy.
It actually improves with time and tastes best after an hour or so.
1 cup cooked quinoa (1/4 cup raw, cooked with 1 cup water and a pinch of salt)
2 cups grated carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped ripe pineapple (or grated green apple) optional but adds great taste
2 tbsp raisins
2-3 tbsp chopped walnuts and almonds (I have used mixed seeds too sometimes)
for the dressing
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (few drops only, be careful while pouring)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar (or apple cider vinegar or any good vinegar)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic minced or chopped fine
a little minced green chilies (optional)
Whisk the ingredients for dressing together in a large bowl.
Add the cooked quinoa and grated carrots and pineapple or green apple if using, the nuts and raisins and give it all a good mix.The salad is ready.
The green chilli gives it a nice kick while the raisins and carrots make a great combination along with walnuts. I like when the chopped walnuts and raisins get soaked after a while but don't become soggy.
This salad tastes great as is, but since it is a fine shredded salad it makes a great topping for crackers too. We have been loving these Bajra (millet) crackers from Tasha Artisan Foods with this carrot quinoa salad.
This salad keeps well in a lunch box as well. Here I made it using a seeds mix (flax seeds, sesame, melon seeds and some sunflower seeds) and raisins.
Please do not skip adding raisins to this salad. I love it the most with raisins and walnuts, may be some almonds too but more of walnuts.
Note that many people do not like walnuts because walnuts get rancid really fast and if you happen to eat rancid walnuts a few times you may be turned off walnuts for life. Find good quality walnuts and keep them refrigerated always to preserve them for longer duration.
Sometimes I make this salad with thinly sliced carrots too. I have actually made so many simplifications to this salad recipe that I even make the dressing in the previous night. Add the carrot slices or grated carrots to it and just mix cooked quinoa and nuts and raisins along with it at the time of packing the lunch box for the husband. My portion is also packed and kept on the dining table.
Making the lunch simpler has helped me organise my work better. I hope to continue doing it this way. It works even when I am traveling and Arvind has to assemble his lunch box.
And if you are wondering how he manages with such a 'light' lunch I will tell you his breakfast is almost always pancake or paratha made of mixed millet flour. I have trained the maid and she makes nice pancakes and paneer parathas.