Refreshing Lemon Basil Quinoa Salad

Monday, January 3 -

Hope everyone had a New Years Eve!

We went to Central for NYE with Marty and Cindy, our friends in town from Charlotte, NC. Places can really hit or miss for big events and Central was incredible. I enjoyed a mushroom pearl risotto and the best mac and cheese ever.

Tons of good cheese.
A crumbly top.
Seriously, their mac and cheese is to die for.
I ate every last bite.

Let's just say I've enjoyed my fair share of comfort foods and desserts over the past couple of weeks and NYE felt like it should be the last heavy meal for a while. The holidays came at a perfect time ... I needed to recharge mentally and physically. I was under the weather most of the time and I gave myself a well needed break from working out. I enjoyed every minute of eating and relaxing with family (although my pants are a little tighter) and now my body and mind are craving veggies, fruit, and some good cardio sessions. Funny how that works? I love that feeling though. It reminds me that I enjoy taking care of myself and makes eating healthy and working out seem like less of a chore.

So here's to kickin' 2011 off with a Lemon Basil Quinoa Salad. I was in desperate need of something
to pack for lunch and was craving fresh parmigiano reggiano. This salad is refreshing and the lemon basil dressing is light and mild. If you love salads with intense dressings, you might want to increase the portions of lemon and basil to vamp it up. I like the salad as is but the fiance likes more flavor and I plan on playing with the combinations next time. If you try the recipe and have any suggestions to make it better let me know! I'm always looking for ways to improve recipes and it's fun to start to create my own. I recommend eating the salad warm or letting it chill overnight in the fridge.

But before we dive into the dish, a big thanks for all your great comments and help on my Splenda vs. sugar debate. You all rock and had great input. I ended up using real sugar in my coffee the past two mornings and although there are some great newer sugar substitutes, I'm going to try and make the change all together.

OK, time to focus on the recipe. 
You'll need some cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and parmigiano reggiano.

Lemon Basil Quinoa Salad 
Ingredients, Serves 2 (or 4 as a side dish)
   1 cup quinoa (white or red works)
   1/2 cup roughly sliced chunks of fresh parmigiano reggiano
   1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
   1 cup fresh basil

Lemon Basil Dressing
   1/2 cup good olive oil
   1.5 lemons, juiced
   1 shallot, grated
   1 cup fresh basil
   1 teaspoon kosher salt
   pepper to taste

1. Cook quinoa according to directions (I always make it in a rice cooker, SO easy).
2. While quinoa is cooking, add the dressing ingredients to a food processor and pulse until blended.
3. Combine dressing, remaining cup of basil, parmigiano reggiano and halved cherry tomatoes in a mixing bowl.
4. Add warm quinoa, stir, add a squeeze or two of the remaining lemon half if needed, and enjoy! Or chill overnight in the fridge to eat the next day. 


Bonnie said... [Reply to comment]

I can't wait to make this. thanks!

the indolent cook said... [Reply to comment]

So fresh and healthy, definitely a great start to the new year!

elisabeth@foodandthriftfinds said... [Reply to comment]

Love the way you prepared this delicious salad. It would be the ultimate perfect salad, for spring, and summer too, with the vivid colors. Your photos of the ingredients, especially the close up of the PARMIGIANO is superb! Great job!
BTW-don't forget to stop by my blog for the $50. gift certificate giveaway from CSN!

DebaRooRoo said... [Reply to comment]

I agree! It's always nice to kick off the new year with something fresh!

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