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dinner tonight: quinoa salad

There's something about these late summer evenings that lull me into working less and daydreaming more. Maybe it's because fall is lurking around the corner and a new season with new responsibilities is about to start. Maybe it feels like the last chance for those lazy summer days I remember having as a kid - that precious week before school started and the end to sleeping in. No one sleeps in around here, that's for sure, but my secret in reclaiming some lazy days is to plan simple, light dinners that take little time to put together and yield excellent leftovers for next day's lunch. Quinoa is a new favorite in my house. Once I figured out how to tame it's bitter tendencies and add the right combinations of spices, it has become my go-to grain. Fancy it up with a supporting cast (such as this grapefruit and avocado arugula salad) and you've got yourself a winning combination of taste and nutrition.

Quinoa Arugula Salad

1 cup quinoa
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup olive oil or Avocado oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 shallot, minced
1 pinch salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups baby arugula leaves, washed and dried
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

Toast quinoa in a dry skillet over medium heat until it has a nutty aroma. Remove from heat, rinse well and drain in a fine mesh strainer. Bring water to a boil, add salt, and slowly add toasted quinoa. Cook until tender and whitish outer rings appear on the grains, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain and place in a large bowl to cool.

In a small bowl, combine cranberries, lime juice, olive oil, honey, garlic, shallot, mint and 1 tablespoon chopped arugula. Stir into the cooled quinoa and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Place a generous handful (or more) of baby arugula on each salad plate. Top with quinoa mixture, avocado, and grapefruit. Additionally, you could add crumbled goat cheese or mild feta.

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