Life

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad Is The Perfect Dish To Help You Usher In Summer

Quinoa is all the rage these days. It's high in protein and low in carbs, making it the perfect alternative to rice and other grains. Quinoa — which is actually a seed — has a distinct, nutty flavor. Plus, it goes well with just about anything! I like to experiment with the so called "super grain," tossing in different meats, veggies, and sauces for ethnic variations on a traditional quinoa salad — like this Mediterranean quinoa salad.

One of my most successful concoctions to date, this Mediterranean mixture is a cross between a Greek salad and couscous. It relies on crisp veggies, garbanzo beans, roasted pepitas, and — of course — feta! Give it a whirl on an easy weekday night, and feel free to adjust the amounts to your likings. It will make enough for four (or two, if you're like me and my boyfriend!). In fact, I'm eating it as I type this and... come to think about it... it might be time for seconds.

Images: Emily Siegel

Boil The Quinoa

Mix one cup of quinoa with two cups of water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, and reduce it to a simmer.

Cook for 15 minutes, or until quinoa is no longer hard. Allow the quinoa to rest for 15 minutes before transferring it into a large mixing bowl.

Sweet Tomato

Sweet tomatoes are medium in size, so I like to include five or six. Chop the tomatoes vertically in half, and then those halves into quarters. Then cut in half one more time!

Be sure to squeeze out any extra “juices” by pressing the chopped tomato with your thumb — this will keep the quinoa from getting soggy! Add the tomatoes into the mixing bowl, along with the quinoa.

Cucumber

Chop a medium-sized cucumber into thin slices, and then cut the slices into quarters. Add it to the quinoa mix.

Sweet Peppers

I love the crunch of sliced, sweet peppers! Buy the mini ones, and aim for four or five. Dice them, and toss in with the quinoa mix.

Olives and Garbanzo Beans

I prefer to buy pre-chopped olives and cooked garbanzo beans. Add olives directly into the mix, to taste.

Rinse Garbanzo Beans

Place the entire can of beans into a strainer, and rinse with cool water. Add the whole lot into your mixing bowl.

Toasting Pepitas

Preheat your oven to a broil. Scatter the desired amount of pepitas (I go with two handfuls) onto a baking sheet. Coat them in one tablespoon of olive oil, and salt to taste. Make sure to mix everything around so it’s coated evenly.

Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake until the pepitas are browned — around three minutes. Watch out! These guys will burn fast.

Mix The Dressing

Mix one tablespoon of sugar with two tablespoons each of olive oil and white wine — or champagne — vinegar.

For an extra kick, double this simple mixture and serve the extra on the side.

Add Salt & Feta — Then Move To A Plate

I like the Athenos feta that hasn’t already been chopped — it’s tangy, and won’t cost too much. Try dicing the cheese and serving it in a separate bowl to be considerate of lactose-intolerant guests.

Add salt (and even cayenne pepper) to taste, and serve along with lemon wedges. You can also serve the dish alongside balsamic vinegar.

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