Back in my elementary school days, Mom would sit down with me every Sunday night to go over the lunch menu for the week. She would read off the daily offerings, and my response more often than not was “pack”, meaning I wanted to pack my lunch for that day rather than buy it in the cafeteria. I can distinctly remember some of the lunches I would avoid.
Cincinnati chili. Pack.
Salisbury steak. Pack!
Wait a second, does the cheeseburger come with french fries or tater tots?
I even packed my lunch on pizza day every Wednesday. Hardly anyone packed on pizza day. As an adult (who loves pizza), analyzing this behavior makes me think I was not so much trying to avoid the pizza as much as I was trying to avoid the long lunch line. By bringing my lunch to school, I could scarf down a sandwich and hit the playground before half my classmates made it through the line. Hello, monkey bars…
Years of bringing my lunch to school carried over into adulthood fairly well. I have a good habit bringing a lunch with me Monday through Wednesday. I typically run low on both energy and groceries by Thursday, but I can usually find something to throw together. By Friday, however, I’m sunk. I end up buying a lunch and usually wishing I had taken the time to bring something – like this quinoa salad – from home.
The sweet peach and fresh tomato and cilantro add flavor, and all that protein from the quinoa is filling. The leftovers held up well (three days) too. That said, I would avoid adding the avocado until it is ready to eat. I doused mine in lemon juice, and it still turned a bit brown. I had better luck with the cilantro, but I would try to add it at the last minute to keep it from wilting.
This is just one variation of what you can do with a quinoa salad for lunch. Just about any leftover produce or canned staple (beans, chickpeas, etc.) you have an hand can make for a healthy, flavorful and filling meal when paired with quinoa. For more inspiration, check out my recipe board dedicated to quinoa over on Pinterest. Enjoy!
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 medium peaches, chopped
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 avocado
- ½ cup cilantro
- ¼ cup lime juice (at least 2 limes)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Stir in the quinoa, reduce the heat, cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. The quinoa is fully cooked when all liquid is absorbed and white threads appear in the pot.
- Remove the cooked quinoa from the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- When the quinoa has cooled, stir in the peaches, tomato, jalapeno pepper, avocado and cilantro.*
- Prepare the dressing by whisking together the lime juice and the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the dressing over the quinoa salad and stir to coat.
- *If preparing in advance, consider adding the avocado and cilantro immediately before serving to avoid browning and wilting.