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Herbed Quinoa & Vegetable Potluck Salad

Since it seems now to be the season of get together's (yay!), this past weekend saw us taking part in a real live potluck to echo the blogging event from last weekend, this time with quite a different real-life twist to it. I consider myself and the family to be truly blessed to have an endearing bunch of long-time close friends, a good bunch of them living here in Whistler where I sit as I write this. Over the past 10 plus years, it has become somewhat customary for our group to spend the May long weekend together, with our numbers growing ever larger as families & personalities expand and the children (almost) outnumber the adults.

This year, one of us was noticeably absent, that being one of my very best girlfriends who is off as we speak chasing her dreams at a conference in NYC (brave girl). This gave me a chance to commandeer her beautifully lit & airy kitchen space to create and to make a giant mess and all the rest. It was an interesting weekend as I tried to find my stride of taking pictures for the blog - crazy how comfy we get in our own familiar surroundings.

Given that me and my girls are, and have always been, the sole vegetarians amongst the crew, its key to contribute something that can more or less cover all the bases in one go, as an assurance of protein and satisfaction amongst the other beautiful offerings of salads & appetizer plates. Last night's quinoa salad did just that, and fed not only us ladies, but a whole slew of tired men and women after a big day of exhausting athletic pursuits.

Getting together with old friends and new is always a joy, and last night was no exception as we all piled in under the roof of our gracious hosts. Lucky and blessed we are to enjoy the company of loved ones in a beautiful setting such as this. Love.

Herbed Quinoa & Vegetable Potluck Salad

  • (1) large cauliflower, washed and broken into florets
  • (1-2) tbsp olive oil for tossing the cauliflower
  • (1/4) tsp salt for tossing with cauliflower
  • (2) cups dry quinoa
  • (3) cups water for cooking quinoa
  • (3) cups curly green kale, about 1 bunch, washed, stemmed and chopped finely
  • (3) cups cooked cannellini beans, or white kidney beans (2 398ml cans should provide enough)
  • (1/2) c fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • (1/2) cup fresh basil, chopped finely (about 10-12 leaves)
  • (1/2) cup fresh mint, chopped finely
  • (1) cup pitted kalamata olives
  • (1/2) + cups Cumin-Spiced Shallot Vinaigrette

Cumin-Spiced Shallot Vinaigrette

  • (1) large shallot, peeled and finely minced
  • (1) cup olive oil
  • (1/3) cup red wine vinegar
  • (1) tsp cumin
  • (2) tsp sugar
  • (1) tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste

Start by heating your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the cauliflower by tossing it with the olive oil & salt and lay flat on a baking tray. Cook for 40 - 45 minutes until soft and browning, being sure to toss it once or twice at the halfway point.

While the cauliflower cooks, combine the quinoa & water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, for 20 - 25 minutes until fluffy. While the quinoa cooks, prepare the kale, fresh herbs, beans (draining & rinsing the beans in cold water), and olives and combine all in a large mixing bowl. Next, prepare the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a jar and shaking well.

Once the quinoa is cooked, remove from the pot into a large bowl to cool, fluffing well with a fork to allow the heat to escape. When ready, remove the cauliflower from the oven and allow to cool along with the quinoa. Once the quinoa and cauliflower have reached close to room temperature, toss everything together in a large bowl to gently combine. Add the dressing a quarter cup at a time, adding as much as you like to taste. Taste to adjust for salt & pepper and serve.

The dressing on this salad is one I've been kicking around for a while, and I find it is delicious to have on hand for all manner of vegetables, cooked or uncooked. It definitely gets better the longer it sits, so make it a day ahead and you will be glad you did.

For a smaller salad portion, I definitely recommend halving this recipe, as this will make enough to feed a hungry army plant-based goodness for a few days, or for one big communal meal. Leftovers will keep for a long time in the fridge and would make a delicious packed lunch, topped with chunks of firm avocado. Yum.

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