I’m so tempted to leave this post with just those two words that sum up this dish so succinctly, but then you’d miss out on what makes it so delicious AND healthy.
Back story: I went hiking last weekend with a group of friends. Yes, us city girls escaped for a weekend and traveled south to Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL. We left Saturday morning and planned to have a picnic outside the park, then hike, and maybe picnic again. I wanted to make a dish that would travel well, offer much needed protein and carbohydrates to give us energy for the hike without being heavy, and suit the needs of my vegetarian friend.
This chickpea quinoa salad turned out to be the perfect solution. Not only is quinoa itself incredibly healthy and nutritious (and gluten-free), but the addition of fiber- and protein-rich chickpeas, along with summer vegetables like red peppers and corn, balance it out for a delicious and light grain salad.
Oh, and did I mention it tastes great, too? Health and nutrition are important but so is flavor and this salad is a winner in all categories. Also, note that I call this recipe a “salad” because it can be served at room temperature but it’s also fantastic warm.
Here’s the recipe:
Chickpea Quinoa Salad – serves 6 to 8
1 red bell pepper
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 ears corn kernels, kernels removed and cobs discarded
1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 scallions green part only, sliced thin
Begin by roasting the red bell pepper: Preheat the broiler and set the rack in the center of the oven. Rub 1/2 teaspoon olive oil on the red pepper and place it on a foil-lined broiler pan. Broil until the pepper is charred on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Once charred, place the pepper in a metal bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Cool to room temperature then peel off the charred skin and discard. Remove the seeds and discard. Cut the pepper into small pieces and set aside.
To cook the quinoa, begin by rinsing it very well in a fine mesh sieve under cold running water. Drain then combine with 2 cups water and a pinch of salt in a medium pot. Bring the water to a boil then decrease the heat to low and cover. Simmer covered for 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Cool to room temperature.
Heat the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a saute pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the corn. Cook, stirring often, until the corn is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the burner and cool to room temperature.
To assemble the salad, combine the quinoa, roasted red pepper, corn mixture, chickpeas, salt, pepper, lemon juice and half the sliced scallions in a large bowl. Mix well and adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer the quinoa to a serving dish and garnish with remaining scallions. Serve at room temperature or warm if desired.