Calling all Greek salad lovers! Are you ready to incorporate a new version of the traditionally awesome salad into your rotation? Hang on to your hats because it's here, it's a gluten-free take on if pasta salad and greek salad had a baby, and it's wicked easy.
Yep, wicked. After close to a decade living in this beautiful city, I've managed to retain most of my 'R's but no matter where you go in Massachusetts, wicked will always be in the forefront of the New England vocabulary.
Less about dialect and more about this summertime Mediterranean Quinoa Salad....
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Quinoa. Is it keen-wah? Or is it kin-oh-ah? No matter how it sounds coming out, it's going to taste good going down. This fluffy grain alternative packs so much goodness it's a perfect substitute for many recipes. If you're a grain loving breakfast eater like myself, try some quinoa as a substitute for oatmeal. A little yogurt, cinnamon and fresh fruit will complete a perfect, protein packed breakfast.
In this recipe for Mediterranean Quinoa Salad we're using this superfood as a substitute for traditional pasta. Gluten-free eaters rejoice! There will be options at this summer's barbecue.
Similar to rice, quinoa follows along similar rules to making it perfect, fluffy, and not too wet not too dry. A 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa for cooking, you can also use vegetable or chicken stock to enhance flavors. If buying lose quinoa it may require rinsing before adding to your boiled water, however, most prepackaged quinoa nowadays is already rinsed and ready to go. Just check the package instructions to be sure.
For all the goodness quinoa can do for the body, check out this Cooking with Quinoa post from Foodal. There is so much great information about why this superfood is so good for you (like being a complete protein, packing all the essential amino acids) and tips and tricks for proper cooking. Plus there's a recipe for quinoa oatmeal, which was super delicious.
Greek Salad Meets Pasta Salad
This Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is the perfect fit for the Greek Salad lovers and the Pasta Salad cravers. Crisp european cucumbers are crunchy and super easy. The skin on these cukes is loaded with nutrients and super thin, so I say just leave them on and cut out one extra step.
Grape tomatoes make for easy prep with a simple slice down the center. Kalamata olives will bring traditional Greek olive flavor. If you can buy them without the pits, opt for that easy step. If pits are a must, try this simple trick:
Take a large chef's knife and with the flat side of the blade crush the olive - similar to how you would crush a garlic clove prior to chopping. The pit should pop right out or at the very least be visible and easy to remove.
Feta cheese is the perfect tangy, slightly soft cheese for this salad and softens just a bit when mixed with the dressing. The dressing for this salad is a well balanced combination of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and vibrant fresh herbs like oregano and parsley. Your gluten-free and gluten-full guests will all be praising this cool, refreshing, pasta salad alternative.
Serving your Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Like a traditional pasta salad, opt to serve this chilled. Not only does it make for a refreshing bite during a hot summer cook out, but it will keep the vegetables crisp and crunchy.
For the busy hostess or guest, this is the perfect make ahead dish. Letting the quinoa, veggies and cheese marinate over night will allow the dressing to be fully absorbed. The result? Flavor packed quinoa, still light and fluffy, with vibrant, texture perfect vegetables.
If you're in the mood for something a little creamy to go with this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, try Wanderspice's Authentic Spanish Aioli recipe. The acidic lemon zest is the perfect companion for this creamy sauce that utilizes eggs to build thickness to reduce the large quantities of olive oil traditionally required. As the unofficial Condiment Queen, I'll be using this aioli on pretty much everything this summer. No shame in my condiment game.
Store your salad in airtight container before, or after, service to retain freshness. The salad will keep for about 3 days if stored properly. After that the vegetables will begin to soften a bit. While still good, the crunchy texture it adds to the fluffy quinoa and soft feta cheese may be lost.
But that's if it makes it 3 days in the refrigerator. If you're anticipating leftovers, you may want a double batch.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- 3 cup water
- 1 ½ cup quinoa
- 1 english cucumber quartered and chopped
- 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
- ½ cup kalamata olives chopped
- 8 ounces feta cheese crumbled
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
- In a large sauce pan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium and let simmer about 10 to 12 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, stir, return the cover and let stand for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and store in the refrigerator to cool.
- In the meantime, prepare remaining ingredients. Halve the grape tomatoes. Remove the ends from the cucumber, cut in quarters and then in ½" pieces. Remove pits from olives and roughly chop. If using block feta, crumble into small pieces. Add ingredients to a mixing bowl.
- Prepare the dressing. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic, onion powder, finely chopped oregano and parsley. Add to the vegetables and cheese. Mix well with a rubber spatula. The feta cheese and dressing will blend together a bit.
- Once thoroughly incorporated, add vegetables and dressing to the quinoa and repeat the stirring process to thoroughly coat the quinoa with dressing and disperse vegetables. Garnish with fresh oregano or parsley sprigs.
- Serve immediately or chill overnight. Salad will stay fresh for 3 days if kept in an air tight container.