Fresh Four Layer Quinoa Salad

 

Wow.  Just wow.  I didn’t know how I would feel about this…being a not-so-big fan of tomatoes.  I have found a few things I can eat them in that I can tolerate…even almost like.  But I always know they are there, and fight the cringe because I know they are good for me and it’s just in my head.

Well this was different.  It’s like they weren’t even there.  Not a thought to cringe.  I was too busy shoving this in my face.

Funny thing is, I made this the day after Mr. Rodgers and I had decided “we really have to stop cheating, let’s try harder to plan ahead and eat healthy.”  Well my day was insane…leaving the house at 7 am, working a 6 hour shift at one job, coming home for a couple of minutes, then heading to job number two for an 8 hour shift.  I really wanted to just drive through McDonalds.  Gross, I know.  Guilty pleasure.  I cannot pretend that I do not like McChickens and cheeseburgers and lard-fried French fries.  But I am trying so hard to leave them all behind.  So in my short amount of time I had at home, I made this bad boy.  Texted Mr. Rodgers to see where he was, and found out that he was at said job number two with a friend, waiting to say hi to me.  So I packed up this beautiful salad, and drove on over.  Walked in to see him spooning marshmallow ice cream into his mouth.

Instead of reacting, I just walked over with this gorgeous salad in my hand.  He looked at it, stopped, and said something along the lines of “Oh my gosh, what is that?!  It looks sooo good!”  And then proceeded to look at his ice cream with an ounce of disgust.  Not a “you are gross” sort of disgust.  I’m not gonna lie.  Marshmallow ice cream is my favorite.  But more of a “why am I eating you right now when I could be eating that instead, and feel a lot better afterwards…?”  Haha!  Then as I continued to walk through the store, I got similar reactions from our friend that was hanging out with Mr. Rodgers, and my manager, who was talking about how “cute” that salad was until she left for the evening.  And I got to introduce her to quinoa!  I love informing people of my wonderful protein-packed and oh so delicious  friend called quinoa!

So, without further ado, here is my four layer salad…my new salad obsession that forever changed my life! 😉

Adapted from this wonderful $3 find!!!

Steak Mango 2Find it on Amazon here, or if you are in my area…go to a 5 Below store and pick it up!  They have lots of cook books I want to try!

This is the same book I adapted my Steak and Mango Salad from…it’s hard to say which I liked best cause they were both so fantastic!!  Yay for salads worth getting excited about!

 

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 Large bag fresh spinach
  • 2-3 Ripe Tomatoes, diced…depending on your love level for them 😉
  • 1/4 Large Red Onion, Minced
  • 1 Small Yellow Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 1/2 Serrano Pepper, Minced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 2 Avocadoes
  • 1 Lime (for the juice)
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 C Uncooked Quinoa
  • Handful of Cilantro or Parsley, Chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Mrs. Dash, Onion powder, Chili powder…whatever you want to season your guacamole
  • 1 Tbsp Vinegar of choice (I usually use Red Wine because husband loves it)

 

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Start your quinoa cooking according to package directions.  It should say something along the lines of “Bring 2 C water to a boil, stir in 1 C quinoa, cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes or until liquid is gone.”
  2. Now prep all those beautiful veggies!  Mince, dice, chop!!
  3. Cut your avocadoes in half long ways, twist halves apart, remove pit, and separate flesh from the skin with a spoon.
  4. Smash avocadoes with a fork until it looks creamy but still a little chunky.  Squeeze in the juice of a lime, sprinkle with salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, Onion Powder, and Chili Powder.  Just enough to get a little flavor, but not too much to overwhelm the avocado flavor…especially since there are so many other flavors in this salad.  Mix until combined.
  5. Put tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell pepper, and Serrano in a bowl and stir together.  Add Olive Oil, vinegar, salt, pepper.  Taste and adjust.  Stir in cilantro or parsley.
  6. In bowls, fill the bottom with a layer of spinach.  Add a large spoonful of the tomato mixture.  Drop a large spoonful of guacamole on next and gently smooth it out slightly.  Last layer!  Scoop up a spoonful of quinoa, and drop it on top of the guacamole as is.  Sprinkle with more cilantro and lime if you desire…now devour!!!

 

So filling…usually I am not satisfied with a meal unless there is meat in it.  This one had so much going on that it filled me right up and I didn’t even think about the fact that I hadn’t added chicken to my salad.  (I always add chicken!)  The protein in the quinoa filled me up, the thickness of the guacamole stuck to my bones, the freshness of the pico-style tomato mixture popped with flavor, and the spinach was delicious as usual and totally completed this perfect combo!  Give it a try and let me know what you think!!!

 

Peectures!!

Pico Salad 1Start your quinoa cooking, and start prepping your veggies!!  Try to get nice small, even cubes…

PIco Salad 2Do you remember how I showed you to get nice even squares out of bell peppers?  This picture is a hint…if you want a reminder head on over to my Summer Veggie Salad with a Crunch post!

Pico Salad 3Mash your avocadoes with the lime juice, salt, pepper, and seasonings of choice.  Set aside while you combine all your colorful veggies in a bowl…

Pico Salad 4Don’t you just love all those colors together?!  Now add your olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir to combine.

Pico Salad 5Stir in your fresh cilantro or parsley, whatever you have on hand.  Personally, I prefer cilantro! 🙂

Pico Salad 6Now line your bowl with a layer of spinach…

Pico Salad 7Dump in a ladle full of your “pico” mixture…

Pico Salad 8Smear on a big spoonful of guac…

Pico Salad 9Then top with a spoonful of quinoa, and you are ready to go!!  SO GOOD!  Make sure to get a little bit of everything on your fork for the first bite, so you can experience all of it’s beauty at once!  🙂

 

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