Quinoa Veggie Salad with Tahini Dressing

Things have been slow on the blog as we all try and keep up with lots of travel, work, and school. However, I figured it was time for another post, and I wanted to focus on something quick and easy, as that reflects my reality at the moment.

As an aside, I just spent a truly wonderful weekend at Aya’s bachelorette party in LA. I feel so lucky to have such incredible women in my life. While in LA, we managed to surf and hike, but also to get only a few hours of sleep each night. We also ate a lot of delicious food, which was a treat, but it was also primarily bread, cheese, chip, and alcohol related 🙂 so I figured I’d try and start my week with something healthy.

Odds and ends of veggies, cut up and ready for the salad.

Odds and ends of veggies, cut up and ready for the salad.

The following quinoa salad recipe is one of my go-to recipes, and something that I probably eat about once a week. It was inspired by my dear friend, Naseem, who made a variation of it often in grad school. During a period of my life where I lived by myself and I was short on time, it was hard to eat healthy food. Naseem, a true California girl, would invite me over several times a week to shoot the breeze and to cook and eat healthy food. This was one of those recipes that reminds me of those comforting nights sitting in her dining room. I recognized immediately that it would be infinitely useful in my repertoire, and that it was infinitely adaptable to whatever ingredients you have around. I often make it when I have odds and ends of veggies that need to be used up in the fridge, and when I need a protein kick since quinoa is filled with it.

Adding lemon juice to the tahini to tighten the dressing.

Adding lemon juice to the tahini to tighten the dressing.

One note that I learned from one of my favorite chefs, Paula Wolfert. When you make tahini dressing, the best way to do it is to start with the tahini paste, then incorporate your acid (i.e. lemon juice or vinegar). As you stir the mixture vigorously, the tahini will start to turn white instead of tan, and will “tighten up” into a thick paste. Then thin out the dressing with a bit of water and a dollop of olive oil. The resulting dressing will be much more creamy than if you try and mix all of the ingredients together at once. Finally, this dressing is extremely versatile, and I encourage you to try it on everything–steamed or grilled veggies, fish, on salad. It’s one of my favs–unctuous and creamy without being unhealthy or heavy.

Hope you enjoy, and let me know if you add any particularly delicious ingredients to this.

Finished quinoa salad, garnished with yogurt and harissa, and with some lunchtime reading on Georgian cuisine.

Finished quinoa salad, garnished with yogurt and harissa, and with some lunchtime reading on Georgian cuisine.

Quinoa Veggie Salad with Tahini Dressing

  • 1 C. or so of quinoa (I use red usually)
  • at least 1/2 C. chopped mixed veggies, or a lot more (I often use: bell pepper, seeded fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, green onion, broccoli, frozen peas, zucchini, etc.)
  • 2 Tb. or more of tahini
  • juice of one lemon
  • warm water
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • Optional: fresh chopped herbs, Greek yogurt, harissa paste, feta cheese, poached egg

Add water to a medium saucepan, salt generously, and bring to a boil. In the meantime, chop any veggies that you plan on adding to your quinoa salad. The amount can vary on how densely vegetable-y you want your salad to be. Add the quinoa to the boiling water and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the quinoa is done.
In the meantime, make the dressing: add the tahini to a bowl or mug and stir in the lemon juice. Beat the mixture until it tightens and turns white. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add a tiny dollop of olive oil (1 tsp. or less?), and then slowly stir in a tiny bit of water until the dressing is thinned to salad dressing consistency.
When the quinoa is done, stir in the chopped veggies while the grain is still hot. Toss all with the tahini dressing and taste for salt and pepper. Stir in fresh herbs, if you’re using. Top each serving of quinoa salad with a dollop of lowfat Greek yogurt, harissa paste, or a poached egg if desired.

One thought on “Quinoa Veggie Salad with Tahini Dressing

  1. Pingback: Kale Avocado Salad with Pumpkin Seeds & Tahini Dressing | Cooking From Afar

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