Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

A couple of weeks ago, my co-workers decided to get together for a beach potluck, we all bring a side dish to accompany the hot dogs that would be the main course. Sounds simple, right? Totally wrong. With all the allergies and dietary restrictions counted, we were not allowed to use eggs, nuts, fish, seafood, sesame, or gluten and sparingly allowed to use dairy. I, however, accounted for over half of those allergies, so I couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor souls who had to figure out how to eliminate the items they liked to cook with from their grocery cart for this one. That to me is also a very exciting thing. I enjoy the limitations as it causes me to get out of my own little culinary rut and look up new recipes and try new ingredients. But then, I also make a really awesome quinoa salad, so it never hurts to go in with a full house at a work function.

I found this recipe on the Back to Her Roots blog, and made a couple of changes based on what I had available in my pantry. This recipe was very simple, I had everything done in about an hour and it makes a huge potion. For this recipe, you'll need:

  • 1 cup quinoa (if feeding celiacs, make sure the package says gluten-free)
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 8 oz grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 loose cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 4 oz feta, crumbled or cubed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

1. In a medium saucepan, stir together quinoa and broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. While I wait for the quinoa to cook, I start with the veggie portion of the dish.

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2. Chop veggies, mince parsley, crumble feta and, in my case, peel the kalamata olives from their pits because I didn't check if these contained pits or not.

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3. Remove cooked quinoa from heat and fluff with a fork.

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4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, cucumber, tomatoes, red pepper, parsley, onion, olives and feta.

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5. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

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6. Pour over salad and stir well to combine. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavours to meld.

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There is something so quintessentially summer about a greek salad, with its bright colour and crisp, juicy flavours. The addition of the quinoa is great for making this dish heartier and adding a nice texture. While this salad was great the day of, I couldn't believe how great it tasted as leftovers the next day; the balsamic vinegar really got into the veggies and gave them such a beautiful acidity that mixed well with the feta and olives. I think I've found a new staple for summer entertaining.

What are you favourite summer salad recipes?

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