This crowd-pleasing lunch with quick-cooking quinoa is a cross between a comforting rice pilaf and a refreshing grain salad. Best of all, it comes together effortlessly. While your grain simmers, prep the other ingredients — then stir it all together. Done!
Pan-seared shrimp and salmon pair well with this quinoa salad, as does sautéed chicken breast. Or just top with a handful of crumbled feta to make it a light vegetarian meal. Use golden raisins if you can’t find currants.
Leftovers are perfect for tomorrow’s lunch box, or reheat any remaining grains in a bit of olive oil and top with a fried egg for a nourishing breakfast.
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I loved this pairing of nutty quinoa and sesame seeds — such an unusual but delicious combination. Cooking the quinoa with currants adds a sweet note that is balanced out with lemon juice and zest, herby fresh dill, and grated zucchini. It's a great summery salad that makes a perfect lunch, and it's great made a day ahead!
- Christine, August 2015
Lemon Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dried currants
1 medium lemon
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 small)
4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
To make the quinoa, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the green onions (the oil might splatter!) and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the dark green parts wilt but do not turn brown, about 2 minutes. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains start to crackle and turn dry, about 3 minutes. Add the water, the currants, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely grate the zest of the lemon until you have 1 teaspoonful, and then squeeze the lemon until you have 2 tablespoons juice.
To finish, remove the pan from the heat. Stir the zucchini, lemon juice and zest, 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons of the dill, and the pepper into the quinoa. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Cover and let sit for 3 minutes.
- Make-Ahead: You can prepare this dish a couple hours ahead and serve at room temperature.
- For an Italian-inspired side, replace the sesame seeds with toasted pine nuts, use chopped fresh basil instead of dill, and omit the lemon juice.
Reprinted with permission from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.