In keeping with my “Hey ya’ll, it’s SUMMER” theme around here as of late, I bring you a fresh, bright, delicious salad, full of quinoa, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, and basil, and a lovely slight heat of fresh jalapeno.
But before we get to that, I have something to confess.
Here it was, Sunday evening. Sunday dinner often revolves around roasting or preparing a whole chicken (usually spatchcocked – it’s easy and delicious that way.). We receive a monthly package from our local rancher, Rehoboth Ranch, which consists of whole chickens, ground beef, a roast, and breakfast sausage, so in an effort to utilize this delicious sum of meats, I try to implement this routine. It works well – we eat the chicken one night, and I use the rest of the meat to top a salad later in the week. (I also save the bones for stock, which, by the way, I am so behind in making…)
Well, this past Sunday, I opted instead to grill the chicken, as it was warm and I didn’t want to turn on the oven to roast it. I made a yummy rub of chipotle chiles, jalapeno, coconut oil and lime and rubbed it all over the chicken and under the skin. This is gonna be tasty, I thought to myself. I heated up the grill, placed the chicken over indirect heat (well, semi-indirect – I had the chicken over low heat, and the other burners on high), and went inside.
And proceeded to distract myself by making some ice cream, and forgot about the chicken. Was it for 15 minutes? 20? I don’t know. I realized it’d been far too long, and I ran outside to check. Too late. My chicken was blackened. Really blackened. Sigh. Operation grilled chipotle lime chicken: FAIL.
I managed to salvage some of the meat, as it wasn’t completely burnt and dry – just the skin was totally black. So much for the rub flavor. That was completely gone. (Guess I’ll have to try that again some other time.) It definitely wasn’t the best chicken I’d ever cooked, let me tell you. I offered up apologies to the hubby more than once. It looked like hell.
The moral of this story? Don’t try to do too much at once.
There was still a highlight to Sunday’s meal, however – this salad. I’d been craving a tabbouleh-like salad for a while, and started to gather ingredients for a traditional version of the dish, when I saw the jalapenos I’d picked up at the farmer’s market, and then eyed the limes. Immediately I made a bit of a detour from my original plan, and instead decided on a more Texas-style version. I’m sure I’m biased, but I believe my version might just be better than the traditional. The jalapeno doesn’t add a ton of heat – just a nice kick. And the lime really brightens, making it sing. And of course, now that it’s summer, I managed to grab all of these items (okay, save the lime) either from my garden or the farmer’s market, so they’re super-fresh. I think that makes such a difference in a salad – the fresher, the better! Even if you don’t have access to a garden or farmer’s market, chances are, the produce at even your local grocery is fresher this time of year, making this an ideal choice.
If you’re tasked with bringing a side salad to a dinner or barbecue this summer, this is a great option. It’s perfect to make ahead of time and will keep (and dare I say, improve) when refrigerated for a few hours before serving. Personally, I was just glad to have it to gobble up, instead of just my overly-blackened chicken. Gotta celebrate the successes when you can, right?
Quinoa Tabbouleh, Texas-Style (gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free)
1 c quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 c water
1/2 t salt
2 T lime juice
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2-3 T diced leeks (you can also substitute green onions/scallions)
1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the quinoa by placing it, the water, and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff with fork and remove to a bowl and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, whisk together the lime juice and olive oil. Toss the quinoa with this mixture. Add in the remaining ingredients and toss, combining everything well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.