Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is an excellent wheat-free alternative to other starchy grains that provides twice as much protein as rice or barely. Additionally, quinoa is a complete protein (meaning it contains all of the nine essential amino acids that your body needs) making it an excellent choice for plant-based diets. While it is often used in place of other grains, quinoa is actually a seed that comes from the same family as beets, chard and spinach.
I always recommend rinsing quinoa before cooking to remove some of its bitter flavor. Cooking it in a flavorful vegetable broth will also tone down any remaining bitterness. Quinoa can be prepared as a cereal, a salad, or a side dish, making it a good choice any time of day.
Prep Time: 15 min Cooking Time: 15 min Servings: 6 Serving size: 1 cup
1 1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
3 cups vegetable broth
to taste salt, kosher
1/2 cup red onion, diced small
1 ea cucumber, large, diced, seeds removed
12 oz roasted red peppers, sliced into short thin strips
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, sliced
15 oz cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup tomatoes, cherry or grape, halved
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp mustard, Dijon
1 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp salt, kosher
1.) Heat vegetable broth in a medium sized pot to a low boil. Add quinoa and a pinch of salt. Cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is soft. Fluff with a fork and let cool. To cool quickly, spread quinoa on a sheet pan. (Quinoa can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated overnight).
2.) Chop and prepare vegetables, olives and beans. Add to a large bowl and set aside.
3.) To prepare dressing: in a small bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, oregano and salt. While whisking, drizzle in olive oil (slowly at first) until all oil has been added.
4.) Add dressing to the large bowl with the vegetables and toss to coat. Add quinoa and gently fold, scooping from the bottom upwards and folding over. Turn the bowl as you fold to evenly incorporate all ingredients. This technique keeps the quinoa fluffy. Taste and season with additional salt as desired.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.