Summertime is here! The sun is out, the air conditioner is on, and the entire family groans when I turn on the oven. Can you believe that? My family has turned against my poor, defenseless oven. I’ll admit, it does add extra heat to the kitchen and it might take several hours to cool off. But does that mean we should forgot about the countless cookies, cakes, and casseroles it has brought us? Apparently so. Since the weather has heated up, the oven is turned off. That means we need a dinner recipe without using the oven. Hello, hearty summer salad!
This Hearty Summer Salad with Easy to Make Orange Dressing is perfect if you are looking for a flavorful, filling dinner without turning on your oven. This salad is easy to make, full of protein, and loaded with flavor. The quinoa is prepared in the microwave so you don’t even need to turn on your stove.
What Makes This Recipe So Special?
You will love this salad because it is easy to make, healthy, filling, and full of flavor. It has a multitude of subtle tastes that blend well. The dressing has a light orange flavor. The blackberries add just a splash of sweetness. Every bite has a mixture of toppings. You won’t have to dig around to find the quinoa or the beans – every leaf is covered in the yummy stuff.
This hearty salad is full of protein: quinoa, chickpeas, and peanuts. You will feel full and energized after dinner and ready to tackle those evening chores (or skip them, I won’t judge). Meals that result in you feeling content and satisfied are better than those over-indulgent meals that result in you feeling stuck on the couch.
This healthy dinner recipe is vegetarian. Simple skip the goat cheese and it is even vegan friendly (always double check your ingredients).
You won’t be stuck at the cutting board for 20 minutes with this recipe. The only vegetable you need to chop is the zucchini. How fast do you think you can chop a zucchini? I’m betting under 30 seconds. Wait no, don’t try that – don’t risk cutting your finger. Carefully cut your zucchini into bite size pieces. Cut off the ends and quarter it length-wise (cut it in half, turn it 90 degrees, cut it half). Then hold your zucchini quarters together while you slice ~½ inch pieces. Done.
Quinoa Made in the Microwave
You can eat tasty, healthy quinoa and you don’t even have to turn on you oven or stovetop (nice try, electric bill). Thank you to Foolproof Living’s Microwavable Quinoa for teaching how you can prepare quinoa in the microwave. Check out their step to step guide. We did make a couple tweaks to their recommendations since we are cooking a different amount.
I recommend preparing ½ cup of uncooked quinoa, which will result in ~2 cups of cooked quinoa. This is will be perfect for your salad.
It is easiest to use a large microwavable safe bowl. When I safe large, I mean ~45 ounces. Cover this with a microwavable safe plate. It is ok to have some gaps between the bowl and the plate, as long as you use a 45 ounce bowl. If you prepare it in a 32 ounce bowl, make sure there is no gap between the bowl and the plate or you will have a bit of a mess to clean up. It will try to spill over. You will have quinoa pieces stuck to the underside of the plate. The bigger the bowl, the better.
Rinse quinoa. Add quinoa and water to your large microwavable safe bowl. Cover with microwavable safe plate. Heat in microwave for 3 minutes. Carefully remove plate (use oven mit), stir quinoa, and return plate to cover bowl. Heat again for 3 minutes. Let sit in microwave for 2-3 minutes before removing (again use an oven mit). Stir quinoa and continue to let sit on the counter for 5-8 minutes while water continues to absorb. I like to add 1 teaspoon of basil for a bit of flavor. Stir to combine.
A Few Notes about this Hearty Summer Salad with Easy to Make Orange Dressing
- I use an orange to get the juice for the salad dressing. 1 orange provides ~4 tablespoons of juice when you squeeze it by hand. Safe the leftover orange and toss it in your next smoothie.
- Try to rinse everything: quinoa, spinach, Romain lettuce, canned corn, canned chickpeas, zucchini, and blackberries. A little bit of extra work but you will be happy to get the extra dirt and grim out of your food.
- I usually rip the Romaine lettuce by hand. You can also chop it, but it tends to brown faster. You can also buy a bag of Romaine pieces.
- Feel free to mix and match your greens. Spinach provides extra nutrients and flavor and Romaine adds a nice crunch. But kale, arugula, and spring greens would work well too.
- You can cook your quinoa on the stovetop according to the package. I just like the speed and ease of the microwave.
- I prefer to use canned corn. You could also use corn on the cob (a midwest classic) and cut off the corn.
- I like to mix my salad and dressing in a “messy” bowl and transfer it to a “clean” bowl for serving.
- Wanting to make this salad extra hearty? Consider adding Surprisingly Good Tofu Tastes Like Chicken (Garlic Lime), but you will need to use your oven.
- I usually just serve this with sliced bread. But if you want to pair it with a soup, try Lentil Soup You Will Actually Want to Eat or Mushroom Barley Soup that is Energizing and Flavorful (Vegetarian/Vegan).
- Looking for an oven-free dessert, try Refreshing, Creamy Homemade Fruit & Yogurt Popsicle (Great for Kids) or Easy to Make Dessert – Greek Yogurt Frozen Banana Bites.
- You may your quinoa cool in the refrigerator or freeze for 5 minutes before adding it to your salad. If your quinoa is still warm, it will melt your goat cheese.