Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean quinoa salad: quinoa, cherry tomatoes, scallions, parsley, and an assortment of various bell peppers.
Make a big batch of this, and eat it for days. It's refreshing, healthy, and hearty- a definite energy boost for those busy weeks! So what's quinoa? It's pronounced *keen*wa*, emphasis on the keen.
Prepping. I didn't have any medium sized bowls on hand, so I filled up several of these bowls that I've had since college. 
- While it is prepared as a grain, it is actually technically a seed.
- It takes 10-15 minutes to cook, which is a lot less time than brown rice or other hearty grains!
- It has the highest protein count of all of the grains, which is great for vegetarians and vegans.
- It provides a "complete protein", which means it has all 8 (or is it 9?) amino acids. Good bang for your buck! You would have to eat rice + beans to get a complete protein.
- Gluten-free. Perfect for those who don't eat gluten or wheat.

The catch?
There is one extra step to preparing quinoa, which is that you must rinse it. Quinoa seeds have a bitter coating on them called saponin, which protects them from being eaten in nature. If you don't rinse them, they will cook up soft, fluffy and.... bitter! You could do what I did, which was to try to be very clever by making a huge batch of quinoa only to have it all inedible and bitter. Genius over here. At this point I am so nervous about that happening that I even rub the quinoa between my fingers as I rinse it, just to make sure it's off.

This is sort of like a bastard tabouli salad... minus the couscous and dialed back just a touch on the parsley.

2 cups of dry quinoa
Halved cherry tomatoes (or chopped tomatoes)
Sliced and diced bell peppers
Sliced and diced scallions (green onions to some of you)
Sliced and diced (I just like writing that) cucumbers
Big handful of parsley, chopped.

1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Cut up a bunch of veggies (use a serrated knife for the tomatoes), nice and small! Rinse and boil the quinoa. Two parts water to one part quinoa. Combine in a cold pot and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, until the center is opaque. Fluff with a fork, and combine with the chopped veggies. It's okay that the quinoa is pretty hot- no worries. Add the dressing and stir to combine.

Dressing Directions:
Combine the acids and mustard first, mix. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This salad benefits from cooling to room temperature before eating. The taste improves magically overnight, as the flavors have time to marinate. Nommmm.


  1. This is the PERFECT recipe for me! Thank you so much!

  2. I didn't know quinoa was a seed and the dijon was a surprise to read--I am looking forward to trying that. There is a spice called sumac that I have had in fatoush salads. It goes well with simple dressings, like oil, lemon, and vinegar. I wonder what that would be like.

  3. Thanks so much, Ellie! Good Italian flavors for us paesanos ;). Let me know how it turns out!
    James, I haven't cooked with sumac yet, I'll have to pick some up. It sounds delicious! I love using dijon in olive oil/vinegar salad dressings, it gives a good kick to things. Also- sounds like this weekend was a fun time over in DC! Great pics :)