There is literally nothing I like better right now for a healthy lunch or dinner course than a salad Caprese. Take slices of a red ripe fragrant tomato, put fresh buffalo mozzarella and basil leaves between, and hit it all with a shot of olive oil, salt, and pepper. If your mozzarella is moist and fresh, and your tomatoes flavorful, it’s very hard to beat.

Shape magazine this month publishes a recipe that extends the salad Caprese into a more complete meal by adding quinoa and arugula. We subscribe to a couple of mainstream cooking magazines, but we also get recipes from The Redhead’s fitness mags. The shape is one of the more reliable sources for healthy recipes that we’re actually willing and eager to eat. No beet-loaf here.

I’m writing this one up, but The Redhead did all the cooking last night and those are obviously her and not my hands in the photo above. I’ve been under the weather and she’s filled in for me making dinner a few times the last week or so, so I figure I can return the favor with the writeup.

We changed the recipe minimally, mostly to substitute vegetables for chicken stock. We didn’t have garlic oil as called for in the Shape recipe (and I don’t think most people do), so I’ve added how we made our own garlic oil.

This is a simple, quick, delicious, and nutritious light meal I think many of you will enjoy.

Quinoa Caprese  (from Shape, May 2006, original by Victoria Abbott Riccardi)

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 14 oz. vegetable stock
  • 1-pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 3 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced.
  • 1 cup torn basil leaves
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • arugula, with lemon and oil dressing for presentation

Instruction :

  1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce heat and simmer about 12-15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. The quinoa should be tender. transfer to a large bowl and toss/stir to help it cool down to room temperature.
  2. Smash your garlic cloves, removing the papery outer peel. Heat the oil in a small skillet over low and add the garlic. Sautee over low heat, stirring occasionally for about five minutes. Strain the garlic out of the oil and let the oil cool.
  3. Stir the cherry tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella into the quinoa.
  4. With a whisk or fork beat the lemon juice and oil together. Pour over the quinoa and toss well. Season to taste.
  5. Serve over lemon and olive oil dressed arugula or baby spinach leaves.