What inspired me to add quinoa to a green salad?
Mostly it was desperation. I didn't want to accompany my salad with a grilled cheese or cheese toast, or even the refried-beans-and-cheddar quesadillas my kids were eating -- sometimes (as I think I've written about before) I just get burnt out on wheat. (Once upon a time, I ate pasta like 3 times a week. Now I just don't think I could. It just doesn't appeal that much. I think it's because we eat so much bread.) I also didn't feel like opening a can of beans to dump into my salad. I love legumes in salad, as has been well-documented, but I get sick of canned beans. That's one of the reasons I cook lentils and dress them . . . 'cause they're fast.
(This urge translated into my soaking some chickpeas last night, but fat lot of good that did me right then --)
So my needs were protein, no wheat, and no beans. Where did that leave me? Cheese, of course! But we were out of feta, and I haven't bought or made fresh mozzarella in ages, which also would have been nice . . . so, no cheese. Or eggs. But I've never been crazy about hardboiled eggs in a green salad. Deviled eggs, or egg salad, fine, but in a green salad? Meh.
Grain! I was thinking tabbouleh, or a loose, late summer in Massachusetts interpretation thereof, but then I was again back at wheat, not to mention the relatively long cooking/soaking time that coarse bulghur requires. And the desire for protein kept kicking in. So what grain has a lot of protein . . . quinoa. So there it was. I cook it the way one cooks pasta, not the soak-absorption method of cooking rice, oats, etc. -- and my timer doiesn't work so well if I set the time and then forget to click the "start" button, so it was a little on the mushy side, but I quickly tossed it with olive oil and a few minced scallions, let it cool to room temp, and then added it to my salad, which was only nominally a "green" salad -- mostly it was along the lines of the farmer's chop suey I wrote about before with a few torn lettuce leaves.
I quite liked it -- and Annie ate some, too.