Enjoying some tasty quinoa

This is the time of year I start to hear the invites happening about get togethers on the weekends or after work for drinks and barbecues. Sometimes they even happen during lunch at work, which I think is fabulous to share your favourite recipes with friends at the office and enjoy a really nice casual lunch. It’s a great way to get you cooking more through the week. I think creating easy colourful and tasty dishes is really important to get you in high gear for summer time entertaining. I chose these two recipes this week to share with you because not only are they healthy, they are colourful and can be made ahead! These cover the basis for bringing food to a friends’ place for drinks or even something to say thanks to the teachers at your kids’ school. Don’t forget about yourself too though, make the salad up and keep it in the fridge to pack in lunches or add some protein to it for a fuller salad. Be sure to store your quinoa in the freezer if you don’t use it often and enjoy the nutty flavour and texture of quinoa often, it’s so tasty. And now you can also find red and black quinoa so you can try different colours or mix them up for your own variety. They all cook the same way so you can follow the recipe no matter which one you use.
I hope this inspires you to enjoy the start of summer nearing and brings you out to the backyard for fun barbecues and get togethers with family and friends!

Quinoa and Bean Salad
An ancient grain that still lives up to it’s high protein profile and delicious taste in this easy to make salad. A great make ahead for lunch the next day or bring it to a potluck for a fresh twist to your regular salad fare. You can also add grilled chicken or shrimp to it for a whole meal salad that will surely win your guests over. 
1 cup (250 mL) quinoa
2 cups (500 mL) sodium reduced chicken broth
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) chopped fresh green beans or asparagus
1 cup (250 mL) halved grape tomatoes
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
2 tbsp (30 mL) each chopped fresh Italian parsley and basil
3 tbsp (45 mL) orange juice
2 tbsp (30 mL) apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) canola oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (2 mL) hot pepper sauce (optional)
Place quinoa in fine mesh sieve. Rinse and drain well. Place quinoa in nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Toast, stirring frequently for about 6 minutes or until fragrant and beginning to hear quinoa snapping or popping. Remove from heat.
Add broth to quinoa and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in green beans; cover and let cook for 5 minutes. Using fork, fluff quinoa and place in large bowl. Let cool slightly. Add tomatoes, carrot, parsley and basil. 
Dressing: In small bowl, whisk together orange juice, vinegar, oil, garlic and hot pepper sauce, if using. Drizzle over salad and toss to combine. Serve warm or cold.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Bocconcini and Tomato Skewers
Juicy little bites make perfect appetizers to enjoy on the patio with drinks. For a new twist on this favourite try sweet, juicy watermelon and tomato to match up with salty Feta for a tasty morsel. I love keeping bocconcini on hand in the refrigerator to whip up these little bites. You can make a platterful or just a few. If you have a tasty aged balsamic vinegar you can drizzle a little bit over to intensify the sweet grape tomatoes.
1 container grape tomatoes
1 tub mini bocconcini
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
Salt to taste
Skewer one each of bocconcini and cherry tomato with basil leaf onto small skewers. Place on plate and repeat with remaining ingredients.
Sprinkle with salt if desired.
Makes about 24 skewers.
Watermelon, Feta and Tomato Skewer Option: Omit bocconcini and basil and use 2 cups (500 mL) cubed seedless watermelon, 24 pieces cubed Feta. Skewer with tomatoes as above.
Tip: Use 5-inch (12 cm) skewers or for smaller skewers use toothpicks. 


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