Things are (sort of) back to normal around here now that we’ve made it through the holiday and four surprise birthday parties in one week! Yes, you read that correctly: four. surprise. parties. How we managed for them all to actually be surprises is beyond me, but the important thing is that everyone is happy and feels well-celebrated.
This, my friends, is what summer is all about: enjoying (or avoiding) the summer sun together, eating and drinking until our hearts are content, and spending time with the ones we love. Since we returned from our honeymoon, I’ve actually had more time to do just that, and it makes me so happy that life is finally coming to a more relaxed juncture, one where I can actually enjoy my day, rather than just rush through it to make it to the next one because I have so many things that need to be done.
Granted, I’m sure this period of relaxation will be brief, but I’ve been enjoying the sh*t out of it—pardon my French. But it is summer and, if you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know how much I love to grill, especially now that I have a gas grill I can light with the touch of a button. I don’t just like to grill main dishes, I love to do it all on the grill if I can.
This Grilled Bell Pepper and Quinoa Salad is a great example of grilled side dish. The bell peppers can be blackened on the grill before you even start grilling the main course and the side dish that they star in can be finished while your main is finishing up. The smoky sweetness of the peppers, salty feta, ripe tomatoes, and earthy quinoa make this a one-stop summer side dish—and a gluten-free one at that.
If you want, you can replace the quinoa with rice or orzo, or remove it all together for an EXCELLENT veggie salad. In fact, I originally made this dish without the quinoa, but decided to add it the next time to give my guests some extra protein and substance. I love it both with and without the quinoa, so try it both ways and see your family smile.
Grilled Bell Pepper and Quinoa Salad
The smoky sweetness of the peppers, salty feta, ripe tomatoes, and earthy quinoa make this a one-stop summer side dish. Quinoa is an ancient seed that cooks similarly to rice and has a pleasant nutty flavor. It’s also gluten free. You can substitute orzo for quinoa or leave it out altogether for a yummy vegetable side dish. Serves 4 to 6. Click here to download a printable copy of this recipe.
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube
1 cup quinoa
4 bell peppers in assorted colors
3 medium-size tomatoes, chopped
4 ounces feta cheese, cut into small squares
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the grill to high.
- Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the bouillon cube, stirring to dissolve. Add the quinoa, give it a stir, and turn the heat to low. Cover the saucepan, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
- While the quinoa cooks, grill the peppers until they’re blackened all over. Remove from the grill, and let stand until cool enough to handle. Then peel, seed and chop the peppers into bite-size chunks.
- In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, cumin and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, feta, peppers, and quinoa to the bowl, stirring to combine. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional parsley if desired.