Vail Daily Colorful Cooking column: A salad with a fall feel |

Vail Daily Colorful Cooking column: A salad with a fall feel

Serve this quinoa salad slightly warm.
Billy Doran | Special to the Daily |

If you still have zucchini from your harvest or your green-thumbed neighbor, this salad mixes the fresh squash with kale, quinoa, parsley, black beans and smoky chipotle and cumin to create a warming meal. Transitioning from summer to fall can be tough for choosing shoe wear, but Colorful Cooking wants to make it easier food-wise with this healthy salad.

Grains are healthy and easy with a little pre-prep. My suggestion to people trying to incorporate more grains into their lives is to create a “grain fridge” for the week. By this, I mean cook your grains and store them in the refrigerator for four to five days and use them to “beef” up your meals. For a breakfast scramble, combine your favorite cooked vegetable with two scrambled eggs and 1/2 cup of your grain of choice. Top salad greens with any grain to add texture and help keep you full through the witchy, snacking hour of 3 p.m. For a great grain snack, mix grains with strawberries, ricotta and a splash of citrus. A side dish like this warm quinoa salad pairs perfectly with a piece of fish, chicken or pork to create a satisfying evening meal.

Quinoa is the world’s most popular “super food,” a complete plant-based protein, which means it has all nine essential amino acids and it doesn’t contain any gluten. Mix in the superstar kale and you add tons of antioxidants, iron and zinc. Zinc helps combat breakouts, and with the changing seasons we can all use a little skin care help. Olive oil is a healthy fat that helps keep skin looking hydrated and supple, too. If you have a flavored olive oil on your shelf, this is a great opportunity to cook with it or drizzle it on the salad right before serving.

This salad is filled with so many different flavors that it will satisfy all of your healthy, low-fat cravings. Healthy, low-fat cravings are real, right? If not, finish the meal with a piece of chocolate, it’s low calorie and filling after all.

Warm quinoa vegetable salad

3 cups cooked quinoa

2 tablespoons olive oil, separated

1 cup onion, diced small

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup zucchini, diced small

1 cup kale, chopped into small pieces, stems removed

1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped into small pieces

1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

1 avocado

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

2 tablespoon chipotle in adobo

1/2 cup crema or sour cream

Prep all vegetables. Cook quinoa according to package directions, fluff and reserve.

In a large pan or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium and add kale and cook for 5 minutes until slightly crispy, stirring twice. Remove and set aside.

Add a splash of olive oil and onion to pan, cook 3 minutes.

Add cumin and cinnamon and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.

Add garlic and zucchini and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix in quinoa, kale, parsley, beans, salt and pepper and stir until warm and blended. Add a little more oil if it is too dry.

In a small food processor, blend the chipotle peppers and crema. Set aside and clean out blender and blend avocado, mayonnaise and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Serve salad with a dollop of chipotle cream and avocado cream.

Makes 5 cups.

Tracy Miller is TV8 Vail’s in-house chef and teaches culinary classes throughout the valley. Join her at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards for Flavors of Italy on Sunday and a potluck on Monday. Visit for details.

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