Quinoa Caprese Salad

I hope you aren't rolling your eyes at me saying, "another quinoa recipe?", but rather come to appreciate this high protein (14% by mass) and gluten free grain.  It doesn't take long to prepare quinoa and its mild taste can be easily integrated into a variety of meals.  So, when I was searching for a more filling lunch I looked around my kitchen and came up with this.  

The caprese salad was invented in Southern Italy, using the only freshest of ingredients (tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella) to highlight the colors of the Italian flag (red, green, and white).  The original caprese salad was only garnished with extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, so I was hesitant pushing the boundaries too far.  I believe I stayed true to the spirit of this quintessential Southern Italian antipasti while transforming it into a substantial and nourishing salad.

Like quinoa buffalo bites, this dish got two thumbs up from Mike.  More accurately, it got one empty bowl licked clean from Mike.  But, I should also mention that I went back for seconds, and if I didn't run out of tomatoes I probably would have went back for thirds!  This is now one of our quick and wonderful Summer meals.  It's not too late to pick one or two more home grown tomatoes and cut some fresh basil to make this mouth pleasing meal.  Here's to good food and gladness!

CLICK HERE for a printer friendly recipe.  Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients for Quinoa Caprese Salad

  • 2 cups of cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 1 cup mixed greens (baby spinach or baby kale), rough chopped
  • 12 cherry sized mozzarella balls, quartered
  • 12 cherry or grape sized tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 to 6 bunches fresh basil, rough chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons each fresh lemon juice and zest
  • coarse salt and pepper, to taste

Directions for Quinoa Caprese Salad

  1. In a large bowl, place the quinoa, mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.  
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Pour over the ingredients from step 1.  Add a few pinches of salt and a couple turns of freshly cracked pepper, toss together.
  3. Just prior to serving the salad add the chopped greens.  Toss again, then your are ready to plate the salad.  Top each serving with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Mangia!