Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Quinoa Salad with Fennel, Squash, Peas, Leeks and Corn

There is something mind numbingly peaceful about shucking peas.

The tug of the string, the snap of the casing, the pop, pop, pop of sweet little peas hitting the bowl.   (Or, the floor.)

Feisty little things. 

I'm heading out of town again.   Visiting the family in New Hampshire.     The weather report is predicting mid 70s and sunny.    A vacation from the overly balmy 98 we are dealing with in North Carolina today.  

I told myself I'd get up early and hit the trail before the sun rose and the cicadas woke up.   (Didn't happen.)

What did happen is a sweat soaked mid-day romp through the woods, fending off gnats and breathing in warm jasmine coated air.   Sunscreen dripping from my red skin.   All the more sweeter for those little gnats.   They like me.  

I think they might like this salad also.   It's sweet.   And cool.

Given our pending escape, I did a swing through the fridge to clear out the 'forgotten'.  I was rewarded with peas, corn on the cob, leeks, baby fennel and some yellow squash.  

They came together to produce a light and fragrant summer salad when combined with quinoa.   If you've stopped by here before, you know how much I love quinoa.  

The corn and freshly shucked peas add crisp sweetness and color; the fennel and basil in the dressing add fragrance.   The leeks provide a little earthiness which together with the olive oil and garlic give this salad a little more depth.   This recipe makes a huge bowl of summer salad.    Divvy it up into sides or eat as a main if you are looking for a light vegetarian dinner.

Cool and sweet and strangely calming.

Do you do this?   The fridge sweep before traveling?    

Summer Quinoa Salad with Fennel, Squash, Peas, Leeks and Corn

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, green and white parts only, halved and sliced
1 cup freshly shucked peas*
3 ears corn, kernels removed
4 small yellow squash, chopped
1 baby fennel bulb, sliced thin and chopped

Prepare the quinoa.   In a medium pot, add 1 cup rinsed quinoa to 2 cups of water.   Bring to a boil.   Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.   Remove from heat and set aside.

While quinoa is cooking, prepare vegetables.   In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium low heat.   Add leeks and saute for 5 minutes until softened.    Stir peas and corn into leeks and saute for another 3 - 5 minutes.    Raise heat to medium and add in squash and fennel.    Saute for another 3 - 4 minutes until crisp tender.     Remove vegetable mixture from heat and prepare dressing (below).

Combine cooled quinoa, vegetables and dressing in large bowl.    Use all of the dressing for a wetter salad.   If you prefer drier, use less.  

Basil Fennel Vinaigrette Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, loosely packed
1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds (the dill looking part)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 - 5 turns cracked pepper

Add all ingredients to small bowl and whisk together until combined.  

*Fresh peas add a special sweetness and crispness to this salad, but you could also substitute with frozen.


  1. Looks delicious Emily!! Yum...have a great little getaway...you've been a busy traveling gal. :-)

  2. wow, this looks delicious and so healthy! gorgeous photos!

  3. Emily this looks so delish I wish I had all of the ingredients in the frig right now!!

    Art by Karena

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