This recipe is a happy result of running a strict zero-waste kitchen. When you find yourself with ¼ cup or so of leftover quinoa, try this refreshing and delicious summer salad!
1. Prepare vinaigrette
lemon or lime cuice
salt and pepper to taste
Shake up in a jar or mix up n a bowl and set aside.
2. Slice the tomato salad
1 large heirloom tomato or 2-3 smaller heirloom tomatoes
½ small red onion very thinly sliced
Leave on cutting board for assembly
3. Make the fried quinoa and okra
¼ cup quinoa
2 cups washed & dried fresh okra; ends trimmed and cut lengthwise into 4 long strips
grapeseed (or other neutral oil) for high heat frying
In a cast iron pan on medium high heat, pour in enough oil to shallow fry okra (about ½ an inch). Line a baking sheet with paper towels-okra, quinoa, and pistachios will be drained here in separate piles. When the oil is hot, fry okra in 2-3 batches until medium golden brown and drain on paper towels. Fry quinoa in remaining oil, stirring and turning occasionally for about 5 minutes or until in clusters and turns golden around edges. Remove quinoa from pan and let drain on paper towels. There should be just a little oil left in the pan, toast the pistachios for about 2 minutes or until they release fragrance and change color slightly. Stir them constantly so they don’t burn. The goal is to fry in most to least oil so there is little to no oil wasted when the dish is finished. When pistachios have cooled, chop them roughly.
4. Toast the pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw pepitas or pumpkin seeds
Blackened Seasoning (We like River Road brand)
Use the remaining oil to taste the seeds until they begin to pop. Remove from heat and toss them with blackening seasoning.
Scatter onions on plates or platter if preparing as a side dish, tomatoes go on top of onions, then okra, then quinoa, then mozzarella, finish with chopped pistachios and pesto vinaigrette. Add a fresh basil leaf to garnish if you have extra.
*Salad best eaten with a knife and fork.
Using ingredients fully yields the best results. I learned to cook this way out of economic necessity and found it to be the most rewarding and nourishing way to approach food. It happenst to be the best for the planet too. These recipes are a tribute to my Italian grandfather who inspired the zero-waste philosophy by teaching me how to turn leftover polenta into lasagna.