Labor Day brings out the best of BBQ fare. Going into the holiday weekend we had absolutely no BBQ plans. By the start of the weekend, we had two separate BBQ events to prepare for. Bring a side. the typical party request, but honestly, I run out of new side ideas. Given the intense amount of mini cherry tomatoes I have this year I knew I had to make something with them. A tart? A sauce? Nope, caprese, but of course. I was inspired by the tiny size of the tomatoes to purchase those little tiny mozzarella balls. They are exactly the same size as the tomatoes.
But I ran into a mental snag. I could not figure out how I was going to get the tomatoes to soak up the dressing since they would not be cut…so I started searching through some of the other blogs I read for inspiration. It did not take long to find it. I stumbled upon this basil vinaigrette at Steamy Kitchen. The dressing in an of itself did not solve my issues, so I thought a little more. And it hit me, I love making quinoa salad. Why not combine this all together? Lo and behold it worked. The final result was lovely and chock full of basil flavor.
Caprese Quinoa Salad.
3 C cooked quinoa (cooking instructions below)
1/3 C basil vinaigrette (recipe below)
1 C mini cherry tomatoes (or other, chopped)
1 C mini fresh mozzarella balls (or other, chopped)
2 T fresh basil
Cook one cup of dry quinoa in a medium pan with two and half cups of water. Boil for 15 minutes, cover, remove from heat and allow to sit while you prepare the dressing.
For the vinaigrette:
1 small piece of elephant garlic, chopped (can sub shallot or garlic)
1 C loosely packed basil leaves
2 T water
2 T white wine vinegar
1 t kosher or sea salt
1 t fresh cracked black pepper
6 T olive oil
Place garlic and basil in a blender. Top with water, vinegar, salt and pepper. Puree, adding oil as you mix. Allow mixture to settle.
Move quinoa into a medium mixing bowl. Add dressing and mix very well to combine. Place bowl in the refrigerator and allow quinoa to cool completely.
When quinoa and dressing is cool, mix in tomatoes and mozzarella. Chiffonade remaining basil and mix that in too. Garnish with a sprig of basil and serve. Can make this up to one day in advance.