Balsamic Roasted Green Bean Quinoa Salad
Marinated grain salads like this one are kind of like smoothies. Say what?! Hear me out. Smoothies are a quick and convenient way to pack in a LOT of nutrition at once, right? Leafy greens, flax, chia, hemp, maca, avocado, algaes, matcha powder, and super berries are popular boosters in many smoothie recipes. Although the chopping and cooking involved in grain salad-making isn’t nearly as quick as whipping up a smoothie, once you’ve invested the time, you have super healthy meals at the ready in your fridge for several days. And while it sits in your fridge marinating, the taste only gets better! Not to mention the versatility of a grain salad – eat it on it’s own, as a side dish, combine it with a handful of fresh lettuce and chicken breast, roll it up in a soft tortilla with some hummus and feta cheese, add an avocado…you get the picture. Now, to bring it back to the smoothie analogy, a grain salad is an opportunity to pack a lot of nutritious goodies into a meal. The recipe I share below is a fairly simple one (you could certainly pack even more nutritional powerhouses in!) but it still manages to provide a vast array of health benefits. Let’s look at some of the ingredients a little closer.
It wouldn’t be a grain salad without a whole grain! Quinoa is well-known for it’s high protein content, but did you know it also contains healthy monounsaturated fats, antioxidant phytonutrients, and a generous dose of essential minerals like zinc, magnesium, and iron? It’s no wonder quinoa is considered a “superfood” by some.
This super spice has been getting a lot of attention lately for it’s antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It also happens to be one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene, which is essential for skin and eye health. It’s so easy to just add a scoop to the quinoa it’s cooking.
Dulse is a seaweed that is mild, soft, and easy to add to almost any dish. The standout nutrient in all sea vegetables, including dulse, is iodine, which is required for healthy thyroid function. Dulse also contains easy-to-absorb iron as well as vitamin C, which assists in iron absorption.
Oh how I love this humble herb! In my opinion, parsley doesn’t get nearly enough time in the spotlight. Parsley contains several different types of antioxidants, which means it helps to protect and repair damaged tissues. It’s also rich in iron, vitamin K, and vitamin A.
Sunflower seeds are inexpensive in comparison to fancy nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans, but they make a lovely addition to salads. And their nutritional features are impressive! Vitamin E, healthy fats, magnesium, and selenium are just a few of nutrients found in sunflower seeds.
Simply delicious and an excellent source of vitamin C to support the immune system and to neutralize the damage of free-radical action in the body.
Whoa, all that goodness in just a humble little quinoa salad! Food is truly amazing, isn’t it?!
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained well (I used a combo of white & red quinoa)
1 ½ cup chicken or veggie broth (or water)
1 Tbsp. dried turmeric
Pinch fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. dulse flakes (or dulse leaves, torn up), optional
1 ½ cups green beans, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ Tbsp. coconut oil
1 ½ Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Approx. 8 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped
½ bunch of parsley, chopped (leaves only)
1 large carrot, chopped bite-size
large handful of grape tomatoes
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, raw
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Whisk the following ingredients together in a small dish or jar:
¼ cup cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1 Tbsp. raw honey
Combine the quinoa, broth, turmeric, black pepper, and dulse in a pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to minimum and simmer, with the lid on, for about 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork when done.
While quinoa is cooking, roast the sunflower seeds and green beans (separately) for 15 about 1in a 350F oven (I used my toaster oven). For the beans, melt the coconut oil in a baking dish in the preheating oven, then add the green beans, balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of sea salt. Toss to coat. For the sunflower seeds, use a small pan or dish and keep a close eye on them so as not to burn them. Give them a stir about half way through roasting. Thy will be fragrant and slightly darker in colour when done.
Once the quinoa, green beans, and sunflower seeds have cooled slightly (they don’t need to be completely cool, just not piping hot), toss together with the basil, parsley, carrots, and tomatoes in a large salad bowl. Add a sprinkling of sea salt and fresh ground pepper then pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. For best flavour, allow to marinate at least 30 minutes, but this is not necessary.