Spring this year in DC was a little weird. We got some crazy hot 90° days and then had some rain and dropped back down to the 50’s…so with our little heat spell, spring seemed to pop all of a sudden. And despite the fact that the warm weather keeps coming and going, I can’t help but get excited about some new, fun, cold salads. Does that sound lame? But really! Salads are great and feel so refreshingly spring! All of the bright green vegetables in this salad are mixed with quinoa (an awesome “grain” that’s technically a seed and is protein packed!), and then it’s taken to a whole new level of freshness with the addition of a lemon basil dressing. Yum! This is great for a crowd and can be served cold or at room temperature. If you don’t think you’ll eat it all at one time, I’d suggest only adding avocado to the portion you’ll eat. Avocado has a tendency to turn brown when exposed to oxygen, which will make it less appetizing, although the acid from the lemon should help, as does keeping it in an airtight container, so it should be fine for at least 1 day before it starts looking a little sad.
Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod
- 2 1/2 cups quinoa
- 5 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 bunches asparagus, cut in 3/4″ pieces
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 bag (16oz) frozen peas, thawed
- 3 avocados, diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Lemon Basil Dressing:
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 lemons, juiced
- 1 tsp agave (more to taste)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
- salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp salt)
Pour the quinoa into a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Allow the quinoa to toast for a few minutes, until fragrant, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent burning. Add water and salt and allow quinoa to come to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork and then add to a large bowl to cool.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped asparagus and allow to cook for a few minutes until tender. Add the lemon juice and remove from heat. (If your peas aren’t thawed you can add them to the skillet for a minute or two to thaw them). Add the asparagus and peas to the bowl with the quinoa.
In a bowl or jar, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Pour dressing over the salad, toss to combine. Just before serving, fold in the avocado. Serve room temperature or cold.