Cold Quinoa and Tuna Salad: Hot Weather, Cold Salad

Cold-Quinoa-Tuna-Salad

I can’t remember having weather this crazy since I moved to Southern California in 1977.   There has been a hurricane off the coast of Mexico to the south,  and the weather here in San Diego has been very, very hot.   Not the normal hot of September, but a blistering hot that affects the coastal towns as well as the normally toasty inland areas.  Not a dry heat either, but humid and heavy.   105 degrees with high humidity is not much fun….and it’s only 10 degrees cooler at the beach 20 miles to our west.

We’ve been staying inside, grateful that we finally had air conditioning installed a few years ago.  When we do go outside we open the door and close it as quickly as we can…there is such a huge difference between the oven-like temperatures outside and comfortable coolness inside.  It reminds me of living in the northeast, especially during college, when the temperatures outside could be way below zero in the winter.   In a way, it feels “like home” to be sequestered inside.   The only problem is that I don’t want to cook anything, or turn on the oven and warm up the kitchen.

I cooked up a whole bag of Bob’s Red Mill Tricolor Quinoa a few days ago,and used it to improvise some cold salads this week. Continue reading

Coconut Chicken Quinoa Salad with Grilled Artichokes, California Avocado and Sundried Tomatoes

Coconut Chicken Quinoa Salad

Ever since Camp Blogaway I have been trying to find those delicious mini grilled artichoke hearts that we tasted on the first day of camp.  They’re marinated in sunflower oil and spices,  packed in a “fresh pack” from  Roland Foods.     These yummy little treats have a mild  smoky flavor and are much lighter than the marinated artichoke hearts I’ve had before.    These tasty little grilled artichoke hearts are perfect on a toothpick as an appetizer,  and  they are delicious  in a salad.    Especially in this Coconut Chicken Quinoa Salad!

Roland Foods Grilled Artichoke Hearts

Grilled Artichoke Hearts from Roland Foods

Coconut chicken?  Yep.  It was a happy accident.  Our daughter made a super special  coconut cake for Father’s Day.   Later in the week  I found a partial can of coconut milk still sitting in the fridge.   I don’t usually cook with coconut milk,  but that particular day I was stewing   some chicken thighs in a pot with some garlic,  so  I added that coconut milk and let it all simmer until that coconut milk had carmelized on the chicken.  I wish I had taken a photo, but that chicken tasted so good that The Farmer enjoyed it  with some avocado for a late supper.   My new coconut chicken disappeared before I could do anything else with it!

A few days later,  I decided to try again.  This time I had chicken tenders from the freezer and cooked them the same way.    I prepared  2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill quinoa and added it to the chicken, then cut up the first yellow  squash of the season  from my garden and added it to the pot.  The heat from the quinoa and chicken was just enough to cook the squash after I turned off the heat and covered the skillet.   Before serving, I added a package of Roland Grilled Artichoke Hearts and some Bella Sun Luci sun dried tomatoes from Mooney Farms.   And it was good!

Coconut Chicken Quinoa Salad

The first incarnation of this salad included a yellow squash from the garden, grilled artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes.

The Farmer happened to mention that our mechanic was coming the next day to work on some ranch vehicles.  Our mobile mechanic is very near and dear to our hearts, so we plan a nice lunch for him when he’s  working  here for the day.   He  has nicknamed himself  “The Atttitude”,  and  enjoys spending some time visiting in the kitchen during the lunch break.   He has successfully dropped some weight  in the last several months, so I didn’t  want to serve a lunch that would  set him back.  The chicken quinoa salad would be perfect!   So I went back to the garden and found two more squash and cooked them with a sweet onion in some more coconut milk.

 

adding coconut milk to the squash and onion

Adding coconut milk to the squash and sweet onion

When the squash was just beginning  to be  tender, I  added it to the  leftover  chicken quinoa salad, along with another package of Roland  grilled artichoke hearts.  When the men came in for lunch,  they dished up  the salad, still  warm, and topped it  with chunks of delicious ripe avocado.

avocado on top of quinoa chicken salad

Topped with creamy California avocados!

Success!  Both The Farmer and The Attitude loved the salad! The coconut milk smells wonderful while the chicken is cooking, and adds just a touch of sweetness.   Those grilled artichoke hearts were a hit too.  I love them so much that I ‘ve signed up for a subscription through Amazon.com.    Now I can get recurring shipments of those delicious artichoke hearts just like others receive their avocados from our farm every month through California Avocados Direct!

Here’s the recipe for my Coconut Chicken Quinoa Salad!  (P. S.  You may want to try your favorite seasonings…one friend added cayenne pepper and a dash of cinnamon to their portion.)

Coconut Chicken Quinoa Salad with Grilled Artichokes, Avocado and Sundried Tomatoes

This healthy quinoa salad features chicken and vegetables cooked in coconut milk and can be served chilled or warm.
Servings: 8
Author: Mimi Holtz (Mimi Avocado)

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 2-3 small zucchini or yellow squash
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 can Trader Joe's coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic powder or two cloves minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked Bob's Red Mill quinoa
  • 1 or 2 packages Roland grilled artichoke hearts
  • 3/4 cup Bella Sun Luci Julienne Cut Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • several ripe California avocados

Instructions

  • Brown the chicken in a large skillet. Add the garlic powder and 1/2 can coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken is very tender and the coconut milked has reduced. Chop the chicken into bitesize pieces.
  • While the chicken is cooking, rinse and cook 2 cups of quinoa according to the directions on the package. When the chicken is done, fold the cooked quinoa into the chicken.
  • Thinly slice the squash and onion and sautee in the olive oil. Add the remaining 1/2 can of coconut milk and cook until the squash is al dente.
  • Fold the squash and onion mixture into the quinoa and chicken.
  • Add the grilled artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or chilled. Top with chunks of ripe avocado.

Join Dine & Dish and Cookin’ Canuck for the California Avocado 4th of July Blast, sponsored by the California Avocado Commission.

 

Crab and Quinoa Stuffed Avocado

Crab and Quinoa Stuffed Avocado

 

Do you enjoy quinoa?  Our family has been experimenting with quinoa during the past year.   Even though quinoa is considered to be a whole grain, it’s actually a seed.  It was a staple for thousands of years in the Andes region of South America, one of the only crops that the Incas could grow in their region.     Quinoa is the only whole grain that is also a complete protein.   Best of all,  it’s a wonderful convenience food that can be used just like rice.  Quinoa actually cooks faster than rice …takes only 10-15 minutes!  Just use one cup of quinoa and two cups of water or broth…be sure to rinse the quinoa first.  Add a little salt if you wish,  cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.   Want to know more about quinoa?  This is a great article with all the the details you’ll need.

I was talking to a friend yesterday who is on a restricted diet which keeps her from eating meat.  She was telling me that she can’t afford to buy the small packages of quinoa that she finds in the stores.   I told her about the huge bags of Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa that I find at Costco.  A 4 lb. bag of organic quinoa  will last a long time and is much more  affordable than the tiny packages.  Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa is certified organic too.  The instructions on the bag recommend refrigerating or freezing the quinoa to keep it fresh.

Yesterday I was experimenting with quinoa again and came up with this delicious stuffing for avocado.   When the quinoa was just done but still very warm,  I added 1/4 cup of Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes with Italian Basil (julienne-cut),  and one chopped shallot.  After the mixture cooled,  I stirred in one 8 oz. container of lump crab meat, which was on sale at Von’s last week.  You can season it any way you like, but I added just a dash of salt and pepper and some Gourmet Garden chunky garlic.

My husband had already eaten lunch, but wanted to try the Crab and Quinoa Salad, so I put his on top of some fresh greens.

Crab adn Quinoa Salad on Greens

The Farmer loves Ranch Dressing.

California avocados are at peak season right now.    The jumbo avocados like we enjoy on the ranch are rarely found in stores, but you can order some direct through CaliforniaAvocadosDirect.com.   Look for the Big and Tall Avocado Gift Box!  Now is the time to enjoy these beauties!

stuffed avocado with crab and quinoa

California Avocado Stuffed with Crab and Quinoa Salad

 

 

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