Quinoa, Almond & Cranberry Salad: A Summer Essential

Summertime = BBQs, lake trips, concerts, festivals, farmers markets, bonfires and just fun events in general.

In a nutshell, lot's of food and socializing. 

One of my favorite go-to dishes for summer events is pasta salad. It kind of screams BBQ, don't you think? I just love a good pasta salad with my burger and massive plate of fruit. Sit me by the pool and throw in a good book and i'm in heaven. Yepp - that right there is my happy place. BUT, of course I wanna find the healthiest option cuz modifying comfort foods/fattening dishes is kiiiiind of a hobby.

I found this pre-made side dish that already did the modifying for me (with ingredients I could pronounce), & I was like OKKKAY -- shout out to Suddenly Salad for makin' my life easy.

Normally i'm not one to go for the boxed option, but this particular one has brown, wild & red rice, quinoa, cranberries, almonds & a sweet/tangy vinaigrette. Aka everything you need to be happy. Legit if I made a pasta salad from scratch that's everything I'd put in it... With the addition of chicken/fish of course.

AH, perfection.

For this occasion I kept it REAAALLL simple and followed the recipe straight off the box. If it ain't broke don't fix it, right? But if i'm feeling fancy I might:

  • add the salad on top of a bed of spinach & toss it with some avocado, edamame and a little lemon.
  • or if you're feeling SPICY add some pulled BBQ to the pasta salad.
  • or inside some lettuce wraps with some feta cheese and a little shrimp or chicken. 

The quinoa adds protein so you can go hard on the veggies and skip the meat all together if you want.

Mmmm roasted summer veggies. LOVE.

Fun facts:

  • Quinoa is a complete protein which means it provides all nine essential amino acids necessary for good health.
  • It's a nutritional powerhouse containing 8g of protein, 5g of fiber, 30% DV magnesium, 19% DV folate, 15% DV iron and heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. (per cup)
  • It's a gluten-free pasta substitute

Ta-da! Easy peasy andddd basically you'll be everyones favorite person at the potluck/bbq/party/etc.

What's your favorite summer dish? Do tell.

x, elizabeth

+ Many thanks to General Mills for sponsoring this post & encouraging me to try Suddenly Salad.