Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad / by audrey gebhardt

I'm on a first name basis with my hometown pizza place (what up Umberto's of Wantagh!!)

Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad

In fact, I'm not only on a first name basis. I'm on a birthday basis. 

I walked in there on my 21st birthday and every person behind the counter wished my a happy birthday without me even having said anything. I was so confused and it felt like a dream come true at the same time. 

I was chalking it up to magic when it turned out that my dad had just assumed I would be there at some point that day (obviously) so when he had gone in for his slice he gave them a heads up it was my birthday. 

They have this salad dressing. It's just their house salad but I was honestly sad about moving across the country because this is my all time favorite salad dressing- I can eat gardens full of lettuce drenched in this stuff. After eating it for over a decade, I FINALLY cracked it!

This quinoa salad soaks it up beautifully and it's a super simple thing to throw together to bring to a Fourth of July BBQ! The best best best part- it doesn't make that nasty sound that mayo heavy pasta salads make when you stir them around. 

Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad

Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad

1/8 sweet (vidalia) onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp oregano

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock
pinch said
1/2 lb asparagus
1 bell pepper
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 english cucumber, diced
1 zucchini
olive oil

\\ Prepare the quinoa. Place dry quinoa in a fine mesh colander/sieve and rinse under cold water for a couple of minutes, until there are no more bubbles popping up. Combine the quinoa and stock in a medium pot with a lid over medium high heat. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and simmer, covered, for about fifteen minutes until the stock is soaked up and the quinoa is fluffy. 

\\ While that's working, heat the grill to medium high heat. Halve the bell pepper, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Chop about two inches off the base of the asparagus, you don't want any of that tough nonsense in your salad. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cut the ends off the zucchini and quarter lengthwise, then brush with olive oil salt and pepper. Grill veggies for 7-10 minutes on each side, until the veggies are tender and starting to char. Allow to cool a bit then chop into 1 inch segments. 

\\ Prepare the dressing. In a large bowl, combine the onion, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking vigorously to emulsify the dressing. 

\\ Add the cucumbers and tomatoes to the bowl with the dressing, then the grilled veggies and finally the quinoa. It's okay if everything is still warm! This quinoa will actually soak up the flavors of the dressing beautifully if it's still a little bit warm. Serve immediately AND refrigerate some for later- it's so so refreshing when it's fresh from the fridge!