Khaleesi Quinoa Salad
This decadent roasted tomato, quinoa, feta, and garlic pesto salad will leave you fueled, satisfied, and wondering why you didn't save some for Drogon...
First of all, yes. That is a mozzarella string cheese. Because who the heck doesn't love mozzarella string cheese? Also, we were gifted about ten pounds of it from our wonderful friend who works in a cheese factory. Best job ever? I think it's up there. So basically, we are eating string cheese with every meal. It's not a bad life.
Fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and the fact that quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids are just four reasons why this salad is the bomb. The remaining reasons are numerous, but let's focus first on the fact that this salad is DE-FREAKING-LICIOUS. As we have mentioned before, we, personally, are quite over boring and unsatisfying salads that you have to choke down on the side of your meal in order to feel like you "ate something healthy today."
We do decree, down with the misery!!
We are also extremely emotionally invested in Game of Thrones at the moment, so please accept our salad battle cries as unavoidable carryover. The original name for this beautiful salad was the "Queen Quinoa Salad". Hence... the new name. It is fairly obvious that Khaleesi is not entirely (or remotely) plant-based (did you see her eat that stallion heart?), but life is all about balance, right? And apparently eating organ meat is on the rise these days. Trendsetter, that one. #flexitarian
Full disclosure: this salad does not contain any organ meat. It does, however, boast a kick-ass nutritional profile full of protein, phytonutrients, monounsaturated fats, and tastiness. The quinoa and avocado make this dish ultra-satisfying; while the salty feta, creamy garlic pesto, and tangy fire roasted tomatoes make it crave-worthy and mouthwatering.
I know, I know. You're asking yourself, "how in the world could this salad possibly get any better?" Well, buckle up, because this baby can be made in 15 minutes.
(Serves 2 humans; for dragons, purchase all ingredients in the grocery store and do your best)
1 c uncooked quinoa
1 c kale (stems removed) or other dark leafy greens
1/4 c roasted tomatoes
1/4 c pickled onion
1 avocado, sliced and lightly salted
1/2 c broccoli sprouts (or other fresh sprouts)
1 tbsp hemp seed hearts
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
2-4 tbsp basil pesto
1/4 c feta crumbles
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt
Cracked black pepper
1+ mozzarella string cheese(s) (optional)
Cook the quinoa: Heat olive oil in medium-sized sauce pan on medium heat. When heated, add diced onion and cook until translucent, 4-6 minutes. Add 2 cloves garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds-1 minute. Add 1 c water, quinoa (quinoa typically cooks at a 1:1 ratio), and a generous pinch of sea salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, place lid on sauce pan, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the water has been absorbed. You will know that the quinoa has fully cooked when it is slightly translucent and you are able to see tiny spirals (this is the germ detaching).
Make the garlic pesto: Grind 2 cloves minced garlic into a paste. You can do this with a mortar and pestle or by placing the garlic on a cutting board and pressing/dragging the flat edge of a knife along it. Combine garlic paste with the basil pesto. If your store-bought basil pesto does not contain extra virgin olive oil or salt, add a bit of each. In the interest of taste, buy the best basil pesto that you can afford.
Assemble! Make your plate as pretty or messy as you'd like. It will taste extraordinarily delicious either way. We top our quinoa with the kale greens, followed by the roasted tomatoes and pickled onions (sometimes we combine the kale, tomatoes, and onions in a mason jar ahead of time to soften the kale - this can help with both flavor and digestion!). Add the avocado, broccoli sprouts, feta, hemp seed hearts. Top with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and the garlic pesto. Don't forget the string cheese.
Et voila! A salad fit for a Khaleesi. Enjoy it as an entree (it is incredible its own, but sometimes we throw some wild-caught grilled salmon on top... boom) or as a delicious side. Leftovers? Hide it from your dragon in an airtight mason jar in the refrigerator. The garlic pesto will work wonders overnight and it maaaaay even taste better the next day.
Let us know what you think! Post your photos on Instagram and tag #LeanGreenAthlete and #KhaleesiQuinoaSalad.