Easy workday lunch recipe: Italian quinoa salad bowl

Easy workday lunch recipe: Italian quinoa salad bowl

Lunch. It’s one of those things we do everyday but rarely give much thought. We know that we should eat a balanced lunch that is rich in protein and heavy on fruits and vegetables, but oftentimes we find ourselves snacking from a vending machine or spending upwards of $15 at a restaurant.

Let’s face it: lunch can be boring. When I worked full-time I would find myself packing the same things day after day. There would be the obligatory deli lunchmeat sandwich, a yogurt and an apple (or whatever fruit I had on hand). Every day, it was the same thing. Boring. Uninspired. Flat.

On those days I didn’t have time to pack my lunch, I would spend my lunch hour hitting a drive-through or ordering takeout from a restaurant nearby. This wasn’t any better. Not only could it be hard on the budget, but I would often find myself choosing quick fixes over healthy snacks.

Even though it’s easy to fall into repetitive lunchtime habits, there is no written rule that says you have to pack the same old thing every day for lunch. It’s time to think outside of the sandwich box.

One of my favorite lunch recipes is a Tex-mex quinoa salad bowl. I’ve been obsessed with it, actually. It’s the perfect lunch option because I can make the quinoa ahead of time and store it in the fridge for lunches throughout the week.

Since quinoa is mild, it pairs well with a variety of other flavors. So I created an Italian version of my favorite salad: Italian quinoa salad bowl.

A tasty bowl of Italian quinoa salad

This recipe comes complete with roasted red peppers, mozzarella, tomatoes and is topped off with a drizzle of zesty Italian dressing. You could even add cooked chicken or tuna for added protein.

For this Italian quinoa salad bowl, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • ½ cup prepared quinoa
  • ¼ cup cucumber, chopped
  • ¼ cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mozzarella, chopped
  • ¼ cup tomato, chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons Italian salad dressing

Directions:

  1. Place spinach in the bottom of a salad bowl.
  2. Top with quinoa, cucumber, roasted red peppers, mozzarella and tomatoes.
  3. Drizzle salad dressing on top.

Benefits of quinoa

Recently, quinoa has become a very popular grain, and for good reason. Quinoa contains many nutrients that we need in our diets, including vitamin B, vitamin E and potassium. Plus, it’s a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids.

In addition to being naturally gluten-free, quinoa is also fiber rich. It makes you feel fuller for longer and has almost twice as much fiber as other grains.

Tips for making quinoa

A bowl of quinoa

One of my favorite ways to make quinoa is in my rice cooker. Since one of my favorite rice cookers has a delayed start feature, I can program it to begin cooking while I’m out for the day. Here are a few more tips for making perfectly fluffy quinoa:

  • Always rinse quinoa before cooking.
  • Use 1 cup of quinoa to 1 ½ cups of water.
  • Don’t remove the lid while cooking. Letting out the steam will affect the fluffiness of the grain.
  • Quinoa holds a lot of water so make sure to drain it thoroughly before serving.
  • Let quinoa rest for 10 minutes in the pan so it can dry out a bit before serving.
  • Fluff your quinoa with a fork – just like you would with rice.
  • For added flavor, use stock instead of water.
  • Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper while it’s cooking.

What are some of your favorite easy-to-make work week lunch recipes? Comment below, subscribe or follow Quill to share your thoughts!