It happens every year. Spring arrives and I become obsessed with making picnic food. With a few notable exceptions (like this and this), I don't seem to like repeating the same picnic salads. I'm always trying to come up with a new grain-veggie-protein combimation to make the perfect dinner-in-a-bowl picnic food.
And so, when the days get longer and warmer, I start getting excited about picnic dishes.
For some of you, spring might be the opportunity to debut a cute new pair of sandals or a sweet little summer dress. Or to play baseball or ride bikes again.
As I wrote that, I thought, "Those things sound great! Why can't I be obsessed with one of those?!?!"
But that's the thing about obsessions, isn't it? You don't get to choose them. They choose you. Every once in a while, they will even choose two of you at once. This year, quinoa has chosen to make its mark on both Gabe and me. Something about that nutty chewiness has gotten to the two of us and we are enjoying it more and more. And so it has made its appearance on several buffet tables over the past couple of months.
Cross the quinoa obsession with the picnic food obsession and you get this very tasty salad. I love the contrasts of the soft avocado with the crisp radish, and the tart lime with the sweet basil.
I think this may be one of those picnic salads that we do end up making again and again.
At least until a new obsession moves in.
Avodaco and Radish Quinoa Salad
To make the salad in advance, cook the chick peas and quinoa up to a few days ahead. Chop the vegetables a few hours before you are ready to serve.
30 minutes preparation time, plus a couple of hours to cook the chick peas
1/3 cup dried chick peas
1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 lemons)
2 ripe avocadoes, cut into large chunks
6 radishes, preferably a mix of mild and hotter, sliced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 cup basil, torn into bits
1/3 cup olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
Put the chick peas in a small saucepan and cover them generously with water. Add a pinch of salt and bring the beans to a boil. Reduce them to simmer and let them cook until they are tender, a couple of hours. Check occasionally to be sure that they have enough water and, if needed add more. When the chick peas are soft, drain them and set them aside to cool.
To cook the quinoa, heat a teaspoon or so of the olive oil in a skillet. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, until it is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Let it boil for about 1 minute. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the quinoa sit until it is soft and the round grains have opened up, 12 to 15 minutes. When it is done, remove the lid and stir the quinoa with a fork. Set aside.
Squeeze the limes into a large bowl and add the avocado. Add the remaining ingredients and stir gently. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.