Because while I want my dinner salads to be robust and filling, I don't want them to take a whole lot of time to prep. One of the greatest joys of summer is getting dinner on the table fast, then getting it out onto the porch to enjoy while watching the sun set.
So this summer dinner salad relies on two hearty ingredients that pack big, bold and filling flavour, without requiring a whole lot of time or labour. Quick-cooking quinoa provides a protein-packed base that cooks in just 15 minutes. I like to toss the quinoa with the other salad ingredients while still warm, but if you prefer feel free to pop it in the freezer for a couple minutes for a quick cool.
While your quinoa cooks, spicy shrimp go on and off the grill in a flash. Everything then gets tossed together with some avocado, feta cheese and scallions. In less than 30 minutes, you get a great dinner salad with little effort — and plenty of time to get outside to enjoy the sunset.
QUINOA SHRIMP SALAD WITH AVOCADO
You should find pomegranate molasses in the grocer's international aisle. If you can't, balsamic glaze is a good substitute.
Start to finish: 25 minutes
1 pound shelled raw large shrimp
2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce (sambal)
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 bunch scallions, finely sliced
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Pomegranate molasses, to serve
Heat the grill to medium-high. Soak about 6 bamboo skewers in warm water for 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the chili-garlic sauce. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the quinoa and cook for 15 minutes, or until very tender. Drain the quinoa and set aside.
Thread the shrimp onto the skewers, shaking off any excess sambal. Lightly oil the grill grates using an oil-soaked paper towel held with tongs, then set the shrimp skewers on the grates. Cook for 3 minutes per side, or until just pink and barely firm.
In a large bowl, toss the cooked quinoa with the cooked shrimp (removed from the skewers), scallions and avocados. Top with feta, then drizzle with pomegranate molasses.
Nutrition information per serving: 470 calories; 200 calories from fat (43 per cent of total calories); 23 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 160 mg cholesterol; 970 mg sodium; 43 g carbohydrate; 11 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 27 g protein.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org