Paul and I work at the same hospital, and often get to eat our lunches together. This also means that we both share equally in the misery that is a bad lunch day. A few weeks ago, one memorably mediocre lunch involved a leftover potato soup, which turned a nasty viscous texture when reheated. Disgusted, we foraged in our desks and put together a 'desk picnic' of stale pretzels and pastel mints, that tasted faintly of the ‘spring grass’ candle they were sitting beside in my desk drawer. Shuddering at the thought of that big batch of potato soup waiting at home as future lunches, I went on a lunch-making-blitz. My goal was a flavorful and colorful mix of filling grains, beans, vegetables, herbs, nuts and cheese that would energize us throughout the day. I started experimenting and prepping big bunches of grains, beans, veggies and vinaigrettes on the weekends for ready-made lunches for the week. This recipe for Hearty Quinoa and Chickpea Salad is a delicious variation that we have been happily eating all week.
Yield: Makes 5 large lunch portions
- 2 1/2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (substitute couscous, barley, lentils, or spelt)
- 1 (15.5 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (substitute black beans, pinto beans, or white beans)
- 5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (substitute bell pepper, celery, or cucumber)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 head red cabbage, finely shredded (substitute napa cabbage, kale, or other hearty green)
- 1 cup crumbled feta (substitute blue cheese or goat cheese)
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds (substitute sunflower seeds, walnuts, pine nuts, or cashews)
- 1 cup fresh parsley (substitute green onion, chives, cilantro, basil, tarragon, or a mix)
- 2 cups pea shoots (substitute lettuce, spinach or other delicate green)
- 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- For the vinaigrette: Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients (vinegar, oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, pepper, and garlic).
- To prep salad in jars: There is no exact science to assembling this salad in a jar, I have found that layering the ingredients from heaviest to lightest, or heartiest to most delicate, works well as a guide. Start by prepping your containers, I used 5 wide-mouthed large canning jars. Toss together the parsley, quinoa, and vinaigrette in a medium bowl. Assemble the salads, using roughly a fifth of each ingredient in each jar. From bottom to top I layer chickpeas, carrots, quinoa mixture, pumpkin seeds, red cabbage, tomatoes, feta, and sprouts. Cover and refrigerate. We found that our salads prepped this way this kept well for a week. To eat, shake up the jars or pour out the contents into a plate or bowl.
- To serve as a composed salad: Toss together the quinoa, chickpeas, carrots, tomatoes, red cabbage, feta, pumpkin seeds, and parsley. Pour over the vinaigrette and toss well to combine. Serve topped with pea sprouts.