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Recently on a trip to California, I had something like this yummy summery salad made for me. Mmmm… So if you have some fresh garden vegetables and a nice block of mozzarella, you might consider beefing up the standard caprese with a little quinoa. It’s a simple dinner on its own, or can make a nice addition to a meal.


The mozarella, tomatoes and basil are cut up awaiting the quinoa

The mozarella, tomatoes and basil are cut up awaiting the quinoa

  • One half cup quinoa, uncooked
  • One fourth block of mozarella
  • Six to eight large cherry tomatoes
  • Five or six to large basil leaves
  • Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste
  • Fresh cucumber, onion, zucchini or other garden veggie, if desired

1. Place half a cup of quinoa in a rice cooker or saucepan. Add one cup to one and a fourth cups of water, depending on your altitude (I live at 6,000 feet, so I use right at a cup and a fourth; lower altitudes will use less). Cook until all the water is used up and the quinoa is fully cooked and fluffy.

2. In a mixing bowl, cut the mozarella into half inch cubes, chop the cherry tomatoes into quarters, and pull the leaves into small pieces with your fingers (the crushing and ripping of the leaves will release their aroma and flavor). Top with a dollop of olive oil while you wait for the quinoa to finish cooking.

3. Once it’s finished, put it immediately in on top of the cheese, tomatoes and basil. Add some balsamic vinegar and stir. It should partially melt the cheese and wilt the basil. If the consistency is too sticky, add a bit more olive oil. Taste and add vinegar as needed.

4. If you have other vegetables to add, you may stir them in, or cut them up on top after you serve the salad out. This will make a large meal for one person, or a nice side salad for up to four people with a heavier pasta dish or meat entree.