This hearty yet refreshing salad is perfect for potlucks, picnics and backyard parties and BBQ’s. It can stand alone or as a great side dish with chicken or fish. All in one dish, the benefits of whole grains and lots of colorful vegetables, require no last-minute preparation. The base of the salad is quinoa, which although it is treated like a grain, is actually a seed. It is gluten-free and supplies a complete protein, as well as magnesium and fiber. Quinoa has a delicate, nutty flavor and cooks in less than 20 minutes.
You can totally adapt this to your taste, leave out what you don’t like, and add more of what you do like. Easy!
Yields 6 servings
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
¼ cup lemon juice or ½-3/4 lemon, freshly squeezed
1/3 cup finely chopped shallot
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup red onion, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups cucumber, peeled and diced (from 1 English)
1/3 cup Kalmata olives, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Quinoa can be cooked in a saucepan or rice cooker, which is my preferred method. It’s a no brainer! In a saucepan, combine quinoa, water and 1/8 tsp salt in medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat until quinoa is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Transfer to large bowl and let cool.
While the quinoa cools, dice all the vegetables. Add the red onion, olives, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes to the cooled quinoa.
Whisk lemon zest, lemon juice, shallot, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl. Add to the quinoa; toss to coat. Add the feta last.
Taste the dish at this point. Does it need more lemon? Salt? Pepper? Adjust as needed.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods