A little bit like tabbouleh, but with a lot less chopping, this pared-down recipe is everything a summer salad should be.  A light, herbal vinaigrette and generous pinch of chili pepper complement the cool cukes and nutty quinoa perfectly.  The high-protein grain makes a substantial salad — I like it for lunch with a nectarine or bowl of sweet strawberries.

Quinoa and cucumber salad

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Yield:  Serves 6.

2 c. water

1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained

Kosher salt

1 small shallot, minced

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

3 tbsp. champagne vinegar

1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil

1 English cucumber, peeled (leave thin strips of peel in between peeled sections for added color), halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced crosswise

3/4 c. finely chopped, fresh parsley

Combine quinoa, water, and 1 tsp. salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender (it should be nearly translucent and pleasantly chewy), about 15 minutes.  Drain off any excess water, then spread quinoa onto a sheet pan (this helps it cool quickly and not overcook) and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine shallot, pepper flakes, and vinegar.  Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly until emulsified.  Stir in quinoa, cucumber, and parsley.  Season with salt to taste.

This salad keeps in the fridge for a few days and travels well, making it perfect for a picnic lunch.

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