Zucchini Quinoa Salad

So, here’s the thing. I love salad. In fact, I eat a salad for lunch each day. For many years I ate just iceberg lettuce with a bit of ranch. Which, let’s face it is boring. There are some benefits when it comes to your health…but come on…B-O-R-I-N-G.

In the first place, iceberg lettuce has very little nutritional value. Switch it out for romaine when you can.

In the second place, there isn’t any flavor. Sure you can add a bunch of stuff to it but then – what’s the point?

I need my salads to be tasty. I need them to be hearty. I want a salad that’s a meal. Plain and simple. I want to walk away feeling full and I want to stay full all afternoon until dinner.

This salad y’all. This salad right here? This salad will meet all your expectations…it does mine.

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It is a combination of bright refreshing lemon juice/zest with a whole bunch of zucchini, pumpkin seeds, and a hint of mint. What’s that do for your body?

Well, the zucchini is one of those fruits that makes you swoon with its subtle taste and buttery flesh (ew…that sounds gross…insides? Ew…anyway). The thing is, zucchini is great for weight loss, eye health, and is a great source of vitamin C. It also contains a whole bunch of potassium, folate, and vitamin A. What does that all mean? It is a super pack powerhouse of a super food.

Mint promotes digestion and can also help with things like indigestion and inflammation as well.

Lastly, our pumpkin seeds contain a variety of nutrients such as magnesium, manganese, copper, protein, zinc and even phytosterols (which can give your health an added boost).

Alright, let’s get this super salad started (ALLITERATION!!).

Remember what I said Monday? We have to prep first, that’ll make the cooking simple and easy and things will move along properly.

First things first, make some quinoa, you’ll need about a cup, but this will depend on how ‘quinoa-y’ you want your salad, if you like a whole lotta quinoa, double up. This recipe is meant to be fudged with. I chose a cup, which seemed like a good mix.

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Next, we need to get our veg together. Okay…zucchini isn’t a veg but we’re cooking it like one, so…there.

Slice your zucchini into thin 1/8″ slices, we need these to cook quick so the thinner the better. Psst…at this point you can use any squash you’d like such as butternut…just make sure it is cut small enough to cook pretty well.

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Mince you garlic to oblivion.

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Slice your scallions (green onions) on a diagonal, thickness doesn’t matter, we aren’t cooking these so the larger they are the more onion taste your dish will have.

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Chop a whole bunch of mint. Literally, a whole bunch. You’ll probably get about 3/4 to 1 cups worth. That’s good. We want it minty fresh.

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Next, grab a medium (9 or 10″) saute pan and heat some extra virgin olive oil on medium.

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Toss in your zucchini.

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Cook zucchini until it is gorgeous and brown and tender and your house smells like heaven, about 8-10 minutes.

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Toss in the garlic and cook for exactly 45 seconds. DO NOT BURN THE GARLIC. DO NOT. DO NOT. DO NOT.

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Toss in your quinoa. Your quinoa is going to be like a sponge here, soaking up all those amazing flavors that you’ve added to the pan. Stir it around and let it cook for a few seconds. Add a dash of garlic salt and pepper. It’s important you season this really well, we’ve waited to do this up to this point because we didn’t want the salt to cook off. That sharp salty flavor is going to balance well with the earthiness in the quinoa.

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Next, plop your zucchini and quinoa in a bowl and start building your salad. First, add the scallions.

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Then the mint.

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Then the pumpkin seeds, lemon zest, olive oil and a bit of lemon juice.

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Mix it all together, gently, and pour into a big bowl.

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That’s it! Now, this could be a great main dish or side dish. If you are using it as a side dish may I recommend some poached chicken? This will make about four hefty size servings or eight smaller servings if using it as a side dish. Season with more salt and pepper…or if you are really adventurous…garlic salt!

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Overall, I love this dish and make it a few times a week. It is cheap, good, and takes just a few minutes to make. The best part? It is Vegan, Dairy-Free, and Gluten-Free. It fits into a clean eating diet wonderfully.

Zucchini and Quinoa Salad

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