Well, Helloooooooo! How are you? As you can tell, things have been a little busy around here lately, hence the radio silence. Again, never my intention, but lots of things have kept me offline and not getting projects done. I think we’re finally getting into our summer routine, so I’m making a list of projects I plan to work on in the coming weeks and post to the blog.
Don’t know how things are in your neck of the woods, but out here, it is HOT! Like, in-the-100s-for-days hot. It finally cooled off enough last night to turn on our house fan, but it’s been pretty uncomfortable this week.
So you know what I like to cook when it’s hot? NOTHING. (I’ve never been much of a cook anyway, but I’m definitely upping my game.) Honestly, though, I don’t want to turn on my oven, so I like to make cold salads all summer long. Especially when it’s salad that’s already been made, and all I have to do is get the container out of the fridge and spoon some in a bowl. Lunch is served!
Now, when I was growing up, we had a “place at the lake”. We didn’t call it a cabin or a lake house, because it wasn’t. It was a little Coachmen camper in a little “campground” on a lake a little ways from our house. It was great. There were little bunks for my brother and I to sleep on, a super tiny bathroom with a shower, and a dorm-sized refrigerator. I’m not even sure I would call it “glamping”, but it was the late 80’s/early 90’s, and I did always bring my hair dryer.
I loved going out to the lake – fishing for bluegill with doughballs off the dock, riding our Jet Ski up and down the lake (such freedom for a 14-year-old who could drive it herself), waking up by the water, feeling like you were roughing it a little (see super tiny bathroom, above), swimming all day, having friends out every weekend – what’s not to love?
One of our summer staples at the lake was pasta salad. Some dear friends of ours lived about a mile from our camper. They often came out when we were there, and they always brought pasta salad. I got a craving for it last week and thought:
What if I made it with quinoa?
I gave it shot, and, turns out, it’s pretty great! Really, it’s just as good as the original – I don’t miss the pasta at all.
There isn’t really a recipe, but here’s what I did:
Prepare quinoa according to package. I used 1 1/2 cups of dry quinoa to 3 cups water. Don’t forget to rinse it!
Chop some veggies. I like red onion, cucumber, bell peppers, and tomatoes. (I prefer to use halved grape tomatoes, but I didn’t have any this time, so I quartered the tomatoes, removed the seeds, and chopped what was left.)
I also prefer using green peppers instead of red, only because I like the way the colors look. I can’t find organic green peppers at my grocery store, so I use red. I only use about half of the red onion. Sometimes I peel the cucumber, sometimes I don’t. I didn’t this time, although I did remove the seeds. Really, there are no rules here.
Place all the veggies in a bowl. When quinoa is cooked, dump it into the bowl, too.
Add 1 packet of Italian dressing mix, salt and pepper to taste, and 1/4 – 1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing. Using Italian dressing mix AND bottled dressing makes it extra *zesty*, which I love.
Stir it up!
You are supposed to chill it in the refrigerator before serving, but I usually can’t wait that long and eat it while the quinoa is still slightly warm from the pot. It’s good no matter what.
Do you have any other simple summer salad recipes? Hook me up if you do – we’ve got a lot of hot days left this summer.
UPDATE: Just went to the grocery store to stock up on on Italian Dressing Mix and fount out the packaged kind now has wheat in it! The packets I had in my spice drawer didn’t, so apparently they have changed the ingredients recently. I’m researching a recipe to make my own mix, because, honestly, it’s the spices that make the salad. Will update here when I find a good recipe.