Quinoa Caprese Salad

I’ve been testing out salads for Memorial Day and this one’s the winner.  A quinoa caprese salad.  The quinoa and walnuts give it crunch, the cherry tomatoes add sweetness, the mozzarella is creamy and delicious and finally the spicy kick of arugula to balance it all out.  This salad is perfect for a warm day – great for a picnic or an al fresco lunch or an afternoon party – whatever you’ve got planned.

Quinoa-Caprese-SaladQuinoa-Caprese-Salad

A couple of notes:

The recipe for this quinoa caprese salad feeds 2 as a really large salad or 4 to 6 as smaller side salads.  If you’re planning on serving it to a lot of people then go ahead and double the recipe.

Try and use a combination of red and yellow cherry tomatoes.  I like the color contrast between the red and yellow.  Also, I find yellow cherry tomatoes to be sweeter than the red ones and red cherry tomatoes tend to be crisper than the yellow one – it’s a nice combination of flavors and texture.

Use fresh mozzarella – either bocconcini or ciliegine – small round mozzarella cheese balls.  You can also use a block of fresh mozzarella that you dice up.

I split the dressing into two – adding half to the tomato and mozzarella mixture so it marinates as the quinoa cooks and adding the other half to the quinoa and arugula mixture once the quinoa had cooled slightly.   Then you just need to combine the two together and add the walnuts and you’re done.

Quinoa needs to be rinsed before you cook it.  Rinse in a fine mesh sieve to remove the bitter coating.

To prevent quinoa from being mushy – turn out the quinoa onto a baking sheet to cool once it’s finished cooking.  This will leave the quinoa delicate and fluffy.

Quinoa Caprese Salad
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Serves: 2 to 6
A colorful and tasty quinoa caprese salad. Perfect for an al fresco lunch or summer holiday party.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes - halved or quartered depending on size
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella - either bocconcini or ciliegine - small round cheese - quartered
  • 2 Tbs red onion - minced
  • 2 Tbs minced herbs - I used a combination of parsley and basil
  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 large handful of walnuts
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove - finely minced
  • 8 twists of pepper from a pepper mill
Instructions
  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, slice cherry tomatoes and add to a bowl.
  3. Slice mozzarella balls in quarters so they are roughly the same size as the sliced cherry tomatoes.
  4. Add sliced mozzarella, minced red onion and minced herbs to the tomatoes and toss gently.
  5. Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, finely minced garlic and pepper. Pour half of the dressing over the tomato and mozzarella mixture and toss gently.
  6. Once quinoa is done cooking, strain if necessary so there is no water left in the pan, let the quinoa cool on a baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Give the arugula a rough chop and add to a separate bowl.
  8. Once quinoa is cool, toss with the arugula and the remaining half of the dressing. Once combined, add the tomato mozzarella mixture and walnuts. Toss gently to combine and serve.

 

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