Rainy Day Caprese Quinoa Salad

This is what it looked like outside today:

YUCK! So…this is what came out of my kitchen today:

That’s right, the rain (plus my horribly busy crazy unhappy week with clinic and then friends leaving for internship 😦 ) drove me to make Strawberry Biscuits (recipe posted only a few days ago on Smitten Kitchen that I could not wait to make), Blueberry Raspberry Lime Salsa (I got a taste of that yesterday at the farmer’s market – amazing), and Quinoa Caprese Salad. Nothing quite like unwinding in the kitchen – cooking and listening to music (today, The Menzingers – one of the bands opening for The Bouncing Souls in Atlanta this week. I hadn’t heard them before…pretty good!). Plus bonus – looks like I made enough food to last the week! Stay tuned for a post on the salsa – I have to get back to school stuff at some point since tomorrow is Monday 😦 For now, the Quinoa Caprese Salad!

I’m going to be honest, I am not typically the biggest fan of raw tomatoes. However, something miraculous happens when you combine them with some basil, garlic, balsamic, olive oil, and fresh mozzarella. I think the people of Italy were on to something there with the invention of Caprese salads. This weekend at the farmer’s market, I picked up some fresh tomatoes (they always taste better when it gets warmer out) and basil. The minute I bought those 2 ingredients, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would be picking up some fresh mozzarella. Now these weren’t the cheapest ingredients, so I justified my spending by promising myself I’d eat this salad every day for lunch. My only concern was that the teeny amount of protein in the mozzarella would not be enough to get me through the day, which sparked a light bulb moment! Of course, I should throw some quinoa in there for protein to make the meal a bit more filling (I thought I was being oh so creative here…then I google searched “quinoa caprese salad” out of curiosity and my bubble was burst. Oh well, while it may not be groundbreaking it is at least healthy and tasty). I am not lying when I say I am super pumped to eat this for lunch this week.

Caprese Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped*
  • A few basil leaves, loosely chopped/torn apart
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup (or so) fresh mozzarella (I used cherry-sized Ciliegine, cut into fourths)
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt + pepper

Prepare quinoa and let cool. I usually use a ratio of about 1 cup dry quinoa to 1.5 cups of liquid (for this recipe I used lightly salted water). While quinoa is cooling, combine the tomatoes, onion, basil, and garlic. Add balsamic and olive oil (everyone’s taste is different but I think I ended up using about 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar) as well as salt and pepper to taste. Add quinoa, taste, season more if necessary. Enjoy!!

Note: I added the quinoa as a last step, but then realized that more seasoning was needed (especially more balsamic). In the future, I think I will add the quinoa before the salt/pepper/olive oil/balsamic, and even maybe try a balsamic reduction to increase the balsamic-y flavor, but for now, this version is more than acceptable (in my opinion!).

*I know that onions and garlic aren’t typically found in Caprese salads, but they are two loves of mine (and they help mask the tomato taste)