Because you want the quinoa at room temperature to make the salad, it’s a good idea to cook it ahead of time. Alternatively, you can spread it out on a plate to cool after it has cooked and briefly rested, or use leftover quinoa. To use leftover grains, substitute 2 1/2 cups in place of the 2/3 cup dry listed here. For add-in and swap-out ideas, see the VARIATIONS, below.
MAKE AHEAD: The quinoa can be cooked 2 days in advance and dressed 1 day in advance. The vegetables and chives can be prepared a day in advance and held on top of the quinoa; mix in before serving. Cut the avocado just before serving to avoid browning.
2teaspoonsfresh lemon juice
1⁄4teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper
2tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil
1small zucchini, diced
1poblano pepper, seeded and diced (may substitute green bell pepper)
1⁄4cupminced chives (may substitute scallion greens)
Flesh of 1 Hass avocado, cut into 1-inch chunks
Rinse and drain the quinoa, then place in a small, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add the water; bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, until the quinoa is fluffy and all the water has been absorbed. Let cool in the pot, or alternatively, let it rest in the pot for 15 minutes, then spread the quinoa on a large plate or baking sheet to cool.)
Dissolve the salt in the lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup, then add the black pepper and oil, whisking to form an emulsified dressing.
Combine the cooled quinoa in a bowl with the zucchini, poblano, 2 tablespoons of the chives and the dressing, and fold well to combine. Top with the avocado and remaining chives.
VARIATIONS: If you want to make this salad a little more substantial, you could add cooked white beans or chickpeas (if you’re using canned, rinse and drain well before combining). You can also vary the vegetables. Thinly sliced asparagus can be used in addition to or instead of the zucchini, as can radishes, or even leafy greens such as mustards and collards, cut into very thin ribbons. Instead of or in addition to the avocado, you could garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, pistachios, and/or feta or a crumbly goat- or sheep’s-milk cheese.
From food writer Emily Horton.
Tested by Sarah Brooks; email questions to email@example.com.
The nutritional analysis is based on 3 servings.
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Calories: 310; Total Fat: 19 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 360 mg; Carbohydrates: 31 g; Dietary Fiber: 6 g; Sugars: 1 g; Protein: 7 g.