Where did the holidays go and when are they coming back!? The first working week of January absolutely flew by. I started a new job and spent the entire time feeling overwhelmed! Nerves aside, starting back into an office routine got me brainstorming about healthy meals I can make that sit well with a full-time work routine. The last thing you need when you're powering away is nutrient-deficient food; eating well makes an enormous difference to your mood, motivation and performance. So this week, I thought I'd share with you this delicious, satisfying but simple tuna pesto quinoa salad. If you make the pesto - or buy some pesto! - and the quinoa on the weekend, this salad is ready in no time at all and makes the perfect office lunch. Simply flake through some tinned tuna and you're good to go. Another thing I love about this tuna pesto quinoa salad is that it's so rich in protein, it will definitely keep you going all afternoon. The combination of quinoa and tuna is a protein powerhouse; combine them with a rainbow of crunchy, fibrous veggies, healthy fats in the dressing, and you've got a lovely balanced meal. For the pesto - I prefer to make my own pesto if I have time. Click here for a link to my easy Lemon Basil Pesto recipe (which has a dairy-free, vegan option); it's perfect for this salad and then you'll also have some extra delicious homemade pesto - free from any preservatives or other nasties - for other meals. (You can freeze the leftover pesto if you don't need it right away, too!).
Protein Packed Tuna Pesto Quinoa Salad
- 1/3 cup quinoa , uncooked (any colour) - increase to 1/2 cup uncooked for a larger meal
- 60 grams salad leaves of choice (about 2 big handfuls)
- 3/4 cup baby tomatoes e.g. cherry or mini plum tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup cabbage thinly sliced (any variety you enjoy)
- 1 capsicum sliced (any colour)
- 3-4 tbsp pesto
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil , extra virgin
- 1/2 lemon to serve - optional
- 180 grams tuna , tinned (in springwater or olive oil)**
- 30 min
- 30 min
- Cook the quinoa: 1) rinse the quinoa (easiest to do in a fine sieve); 2) place the quinoa in a saucepan with twice as much water i.e. 2/3 cup water for 1/3 cup quinoa; 3) bring the mixture to boil then reduce to a very gentle simmer, pop the lid on and let it cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally; 4) after the 15 minutes remove from the heat and let it sit with the lid on for 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and it's done. (Let it cool to room temperature before using in the salad.)
- Make the salad dressing by combining the pesto with the olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
- Combine the salad leaves, tomatoes, cabbage, capsicum and quinoa in a large bowl.
- Pour over the salad dressing and mix it all together thoroughly.
- Divide the mixture in half. Serve immediately (with a fresh wedge of lemon if available) with about 90 grams of tuna atop each portion, or pack it away into a container; you can add a small tin of tuna later.
*if you don’t like tuna – or you want to keep this recipe vegan – you can simply omit the tuna. Other yummy protein choices to accompany this salad are:
- vegan options: mixed raw nuts and/or seeds, chickpeas, lentils;
- boiled eggs;
- tinned or freshly cooked salmon, mackerel, or sardines;
- shredded chicken.