Quinoa and Bread Salad


You’d think that the last thing that I’d do when I’m procrastinating, and just not ready to jump into the day’s mountain of work, is look at recipes and cookbooks, but that’s often what I do. I have piles — piles, I tell you! — of print-outs of new recipes to try, all over my desk, in baskets, stuck onto the fridge, and stuffed into cookbooks, too. They’re all over the place.

In my procrastination, the other day, I decided that I needed to clean up the mess on my desk before I started to work (another way of actually not working), and I found a recipe from Martha Rose Shulman in The New York Times, for Spicy Quinoa, Tomato and Cucumber Salad. So I put it aside. As I continued to straighten things up, I started thumbing through Yottam Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cookbook, “Plenty,” which I sometimes do for inspiration (another guilt-free procrastination technique) – and I saw Quinoa and Grilled Sourdough Bread Salad.

I stuffed the NYT recipe into the cookbook, and kept on.

The night before, I had a soggy baguette from all of the humidity and rain we’ve been having around here, and because I was feeling quite lazy, instead of slicing the bread into neat little cubes, I just tore it up and made croutons (which I will do from now on).

I love bread salads, and I’ve also been in the mood for grains lately, because it seems like my healthy eating habits left for vacation some time ago. So I combined these two recipes, tweaked them a bit, and made this salad for dinner the other night. I enlisted X to slice the cucumber while I chopped the tomatoes and sliced the onions, and it took no time at all.

We sat outside in the garden and ate nearly all of this, even though I think that it would actually serve four people just fine.

The vinaigrette is the key to turning this classic Tuscan salad into something completely different – the cilantro and spicy chile give it a bit of heat, which reminds me of home.

The flavors, I mean, y’all. Not those 30-something days of 100-degree heat. I miss Texas, but I don’t miss that nonsense.

Quinoa and Bread Salad

Makes 4 servings


  • ½ of a stale baguette
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 large diced tomatoes
  • 1 large cucumber, unpeeled
  • ½ of a red onion, very thinly sliced
  • about 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (I used the juice of 1 1/2 limes)
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • small handful of chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
  • 1 diced avocado

1. Preheat your oven to 400°F and tear up the baguette into bite-size pieces — this is my lazy, “rustic” way of making homemade croutons. Toss the croutons on a cookie sheet, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and add a big pinch of salt and pepper and slide into the oven for about 15 minutes, or until they’re nice and crispy. You can also do this in advance, or whenever you have stale bread, and just keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge.

2. Cook the quinoa. Put 2 cups of water onto boil with a pinch of salt and when it boils, add the quinoa, cover the pot, turn the heat down to a simmer, and set the timer for 10 minutes. Let the quinoa rest, lid on, until it soaks up the rest of the water, fluff, and let cool.

3. Slice your cucumber into rounds, and then quarter them. Toss them in a large bowl along with the tomatoes, and red onion slices.

4. Make your vinaigrette by putting the lime juice, minced garlic, sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt in a jam jar and giving it a good shake. Let rest 10 minutes or so, and then add the olive oil. Taste for seasonings.

5. Right before serving, add the croutons and quinoa to your veggies and toss with the vinaigrette. You might not need all of the quinoa or all of the vinaigrette — you can save the rest of the vinaigrette in the fridge, and pop the remaining quinoa in the freezer and simply thaw and use when you’re ready.