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This Broccoli-Quinoa Salad Is the Answer to Soggy Desk Lunches


Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes that never, ever let us down.

If life were a video game, packing your lunch would totally be a power-up—one of those trinkets you grab or smash or eat that gives you special powers. Even bringing a sad desk lunch would provide you a little boost. But bringing salad for lunch? Now that would be worth some serious adulting points—right up there with scheduling your semi-annual dental visit and cleaning the oven. (Do these video game metaphors make sense? Who knows! I never got past ‘Rainbow Road’ in Mario Kart.)

How to Make Broccoli Quinoa Salad

I used to think meal prepping a week’s worth of salad was an unattainable goal—a grown-up Holy Grail. Then I met this make-ahead broccoli and quinoa salad and saw the light. If you’ve ever had a traumatic encounter with a limp, soggy salad you may be reluctant to pack up a few day’s worth for work. I get it! I promise: This one will not disappoint. Unlike leafy greens and watery vegetables, broccoli holds up like a champ. And an addictive, well-balanced blend of mix-ins like chopped roasted almonds, sharp cheddar, dates, and red pepper flakes only gets better over time. It’s an interesting, healthyish lunch that tastes like it came from an actually-good fancy food store salad bar—without forking over my life’s savings.

Are you sold? You better be. Start by cooking the quinoa like pasta. Get a big pot of salted water boiling, dump in the dry quinoa, and gently boil until you see a curly tail separating from the grains. Once it’s tender, dump it into a fine mesh strainer, shake off as much excess water as you can, and immediately return the cooked quinoa to the saucepan. For extra-fluffy quinoa, put a couple of paper towels under the lid to absorb excess moisture as the grains continue to steam.

Okay: broccoli time! Shaving broccoli may seem tricky, but it’s easily accomplished with some basic knifework. Grasp the broccoli by the stalk with your non-dominant hand and hold it over a large bowl, then use a sharp chef’s knife to evenly scrape off the buds. If this seems confusing, check out this handy photo.

Once the stalk is bald, it’s time to butcher the stalk and stem. The inner parts of broccoli stalks are tender and delicious, and worth excavating with a bit of vegetable peeler action. They are sweet and refreshing, and pretty much every salad can do with a little extra crunch. Once the inner stalk is chopped, toss it into the bowl with your dates, scallions, cheese, almonds, red pepper, and all that fluffy quinoa. Add some salt, olive oil, and lemon juice, then toss to combine.

Now all that’s left to do is wait. Cover the salad with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the salad’s surface to lock in the flavor. Let it sit at least 30 minutes, and up to three days. The dates will soften, and the quinoa-broccoli mixture will soak up all the seasoning. It will be worth the wait.

I know I said this salad is meant for lunch, but I’d be lying if I pretended I never eat it straight out of the bowl. Of course some gets skimmed off the top, in furtive bites and nibbles on stray “scraps” of cheese. That’s just the price of meal prep—and it sure feels like a power-up to me.

Get the recipe:

Source of this (above) article: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/never-fail-make-ahead-broccoli-quinoa-salad

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