Colorful Salad

by Neha Pant

Nothing says spring better than bright colors. Finally the rain sleet and snow are behind us and we have some gorgeous blue skies and beautiful sunshine. I have been working in my yard a lot getting it all pretty. The flowers and the chirping of the birds make my heart so happy but you know what makes me happier? The market will soon be a weekly market. I have already started to plan and make my list (two weeks in-between markets is a bit much for me). I am a regular at the market and there are two main reasons for it:

 1)  It’s my happy place!! It’s a place where I meet my market friends and make new ones each time. It’s a place where I’m constantly learning about new produce and how it is grown. It’s a place where I discover new items and get all excited about new dishes.

2)  I buy some of my products exclusively from the market and I have a rule that once they finish, that’s it. I don’t buy any more of that kind of food until the next market.

Around this time of the year I am making a switch from all those warm comfort foods to crispy, crunchy salads. Salads are quick and easy and healthy dishes. I make a couple of mine with quinoa as it makes for a whole meal. I made some Sunday evening to pack for Monday lunch. My little one loves it and I added a side of fruit and a slice of cheddar cheese from Eagle Mountain Farmhouse cheese. A block of that cheese last really well if you wrap it with parchment paper and then the clear wrap. We eat chunky slices of those as a snack or a side. Like I said, once it’s gone, it’s gone, so we space out the cheese consumption. It’s simple!

The recipe for this beautiful, colorful salad is quite simple and it is everything fresh food is all about. I’m jumping the gun and including some summer ingredients, plus I only buy organic produce, but you can tweak this to your family’s taste. You will need:

½ cup black beans (run through water and drain)
½ cup corn
½ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
½ cucumber, peeled and seeded
½ red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
¼ cup green onions, sliced
6-7 olives sliced (depending on how much you like them. I like them a lot)
½ cup quinoa, cooked
Olive oil (mine came from Texas Olive Ranch at the market)
Feta cheese, or you could try some delicious goat cheese from Latte Da dairy
A little secret ingredient which does the trick for my daughter is Peach Vinegar from Texas Olive Ranch.
I had a little bit of arugula from Greens and Goodies so I mixed that in too. You could add chopped lettuce or any other green you like.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, feta cheese being last, and then drizzle on some olive oil and a little bit of the peach vinegar if you like. Mix it all really well, you can sprinkle a little salt to balance the taste.

This was a hit at my house with a little crunch from the cucumber and peppers, a little tangy from the cheese and olives, and the quinoa is mild enough to take on all the flavors. When I picked up my daughter after school on Monday, the first thing she said as she hopped in the car was, “That salad was sooo good!”

Hope you’ll enjoy this salad as much we did. I’ll see you at the market – it’s going to be a beautiful day. Bring some sunshine with you!!


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