That’s SO Jenn’s Quinoa Salad

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One of my greatest tips for being a good host is to accommodate your guests needs. It’s important to cater to certain allergies and dietary restrictions so they can enjoy the party just as much as everyone else! For July 4th we had a couple of friends here who are vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free (GF), so it was up to me to be sure they had plenty to eat.

If you’re having others contribute to your party menu, ask them to be conscious as well. My friend Karolyn was quite flexible bringing the blue cheese on the side for her mesculin salad, and always makes sure she provides a GF dressing. Simple swaps like this help your friends feel comfortable, ensuring a great event for everyone.

The first thing I always check off my shopping list is typical party snacks like chips and popcorn. These days you will probably learn that many of your favorite brands happen to fit into this allergy conscious category. It also helps avoid cross-contamination from one ‘safe’ hand-grabbed food to another. Besides offering fruits, veggies and spreads, it’s important to have some substantial options as well. In addition to my baked beanssweet and spicy slaw,  homemade pickles, and lemon white bean dip, I also created a quinoa salad. Packed with protein and fiber, I knew this would keep all my guests satiated and happy.

I’ve made a few dishes with the magical whole grain before (remember my quinoa cakes, quinoa fajita tacos and quinoa antipasto salad?), this time incorporating fresh red onion, juicy tomatoes, sweet corn kernels as well as pink beans and chick peas for even more nutrients. The light balsamic vinaigrette is the same one I whisked together for my panzanella salad, refreshing for a hot summer day.

I’m proud to say that amidst the pulled pork, party meatballs and beer can chicken, this vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free dish was still a big hit!

Ingredients:

For salad

About 4 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1 lb. packaged Campari tomatoes, quartered

1 (15.5 oz.) can chick peas, rinsed and drained

1 (15.25 oz.) can whole kernel sweet corn, rinsed and drained

1 (15.5 oz.) can pink beans, rinsed and drained

For dressing

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Instructions:

Prepare quinoa according to directions.

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Transfer to a bowl.

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Add corn.

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Throw in chickpeas.

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Toss in pink beans.

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And diced red onion.

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Top with tomatoes.

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Whisk dressing together.

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Pour dressing over salad and toss together.

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Eat and enjoy a delicious, vegan, gluten-free dish!

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