Middle Eastern quinoa salad for a refreshing lunch on Meatless Monday

With all the fresh produce we're starting to see in the grocery stores and at farmers' markets, this is an ideal time to cook up a lunch-time salad that won't leave your stomach growling an hour later. The spiced quinoa in this dish (adapted from a recipe in Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook) adds a good amount of protein, and the tomatoes, cucumber and bell pepper offer some extra flavor.

See also: - Curried quinoa with peas for a quick protein fix on Meatless Monday - Southwestern-style quinoa salad for a lunchtime protein punch on Meatless Monday - Calabasita-style spaghetti squash for a south-of-the-border entree

You will need:

1 cup quinoa 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 2-3 medium tomatoes 2 medium cucumbers 2 medium red bell peppers Fresh basil 2 lemons Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat 2 1/2 cups water in a medium or large saucepan. Rinse the quinoa in a fine strainer with cold water. Add the quinoa, cumin and turmeric to the water when it boils; once the water is boiling again, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for ten to fifteen minutes, stirring every five minutes or so, until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. 2. If you have a gas stove, roast the red bell peppers over the open flame until the skins are black, turning so you get all sides of the peppers. (It's fine to throw them in raw, too.) 3. Cut the lemon in half. Juice the lemon. 4. Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Dice the cucumbers. Throw them in a large bowl and add the lemon juice. 5. By now, your peppers should be roasted. While they're warm, put them in a plastic bag and tie it shut. Your quinoa should be cooked, too. 6. Dice the tomatoes and add them to the bowl. 7. Tear off a few basil leaves and chop them until you have about 2 tablespoons of fresh, finely chopped basil. Add the basil. 8. Take the peppers out of the bag, peel the black skin off and chop. Add the peppers to the bowl. Add the quinoa, too, which should be cool by now. Mix everything together and serve.

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen