Even though fall and winter are my favorite seasons, I really do love summertime (minus heat and humidity). I love the long days...summer gardens....BBQ's...roadtrips...star gazing...spending long nights lingering over a chilled bottle of good wine and good conversation with friends.
The one thing that's been so hard this year is not being able to eat at any of the food when we go to a party. After one day of surviving on carrot sticks and a Lara Bar, I decided that I'm just going to have to bring my own food and not hope that I'll be able to eat wherever we end up. This past weekend we celebrated my Grandpa's 80th birthday and a cousin's high school graduation. Both were BBQ's, so I decided to bring along a cold side that I could enjoy and share if anyone was interested.
One of my favorite things to make for BBQ's is an "everything but the kitchen sink" pasta salad. I boil up all the odds and ends of leftover pasta, chop up all almost empty jars of olives and pickled vegetables, add bits of meats and cheeses from the lunch-meat drawer, finely chop up what's left in the vegetable crisper, and toss with the 17 almost-empty bottles of vinaigrette taking up the entire fridge door. It's always different, yet always delicious.
Now that I'm on such a restrictive diet, I can't use my go-to "recipe" for the summer BBQ season. So instead of focusing on what I CAN'T have, I looked at what I CAN have. I had a box of quinoa in my pantry and decided to make a quinoa "pasta" salad and only use what I had on hand. It turned out so good. My hubby said it was "light and refreshing." You will probably want to double the recipe for your next potluck because it's that good!
1c quinoa, rinsed throughly, prepared according to package directions (can be made ahead of time and chilled)
2 carrots, shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 cucumber, seeded, peeled and diced
12 large basil leaves, cut into ribbons
4 c baby spinach, chopped
1 can artichoke heart quarters, drained
1 can black olives, drained
1/4 c garlic flavored olive oil
1/4 c raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp herbs de provonce
Mix together cooked quinoa, carrots, green onions, cucumber, basil, spinach, artichoke hearts, and olives. Pour dressing over top and mix toghether. Cover and chill or serve immediately.