Quinoa and Pineapple Salad Jars
This is a perfect dish for the dog days of July, when you don't feel like cooking but everyone still expects to eat. I found the recipe in a terrific new picnic cookbook while researching last week's Food & Flavor story about outdoor feasts -- July is National Picnic Month -- but don't feel like you have to carry it somewhere, or individually portion it, to appreciate the summery flavors. It works just as well in a big communal bowl.
Round out the meal with some crusty bread and a glass of fruity red Beaujolais. This is pretty low-cal, so plan on dessert!
2 to 3 large beefsteak tomatoes
Sea salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons, divided
1 large cucumber
15-ounce can pineapple chunks in natural juice, drained
6 sprigs fresh dill
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
Handful fresh basil, finely chopped
Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Handful fresh mint, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon capers, drained
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Sea salt and black pepper
Slice tomatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place slices flat on a dish, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon on top. Let sit at room temperature until you assemble salad.
Grate carrots and set aside.
Peel and seed cucumber, and cut into small pieces. Mix with drained pineapple. Chop dill leaves, discarding any tough stalks, and sprinkle over pineapple. Season lightly with salt and pepper and give it a final mix to incorporate.
Cook quinoa according to package directions. When grains are tender, drain well and leave to cool in a mixing bowl. Using leaves only, place basil, parsley and mint into a food processor. Add garlic and capers and chop on a pulse setting. Make sure you don't puree the mixture. Add remaining lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If it seems thin, add a bit more oil. Pulse once or twice more until everything is combined.
Crumble the feta cheese over the cooled quinoa, pour in the herb dressing and mix well.
Assemble salad in layers, either in individual Mason jars or one big flat bowl. The order is: Carrots, tomato, pineapple/cucumber salad, quinoa/feta salad, another handful of shredded carrots and, last, a good handful of arugula leaves. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lemon dressing (from tomatoes). Seal the jar lids (if using) and you're ready to go.
Serves 3 to 4, depending on appetite.
-- Adapted from "A Perfect Day for a Picnic" by Tori Finch (Ryland Peters & Small, March 2013, $24.95)
Gretchen McKay: email@example.com or 412-263-1419.