Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

I’m always looking for a quick and easy recipe for dinner, especially in the summer when I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It helps if the recipe I find can be revamped to be a little healthier by swapping out the refined grain and replaced with a whole grain, or studded with more vegetables to increase the fiber and add other nutrients.

A few years back, I came across a recipe for a couscous salad that combined some of my favorite ingredients (feta cheese, tomatoes, olives, etc.). Inspired my the combination of flavors, I decided to tinker with the recipe to make the salad a little healthier.

The first switch I made was substituting quinoa for the couscous. Quinoa is an ancient grain, full of protein and fiber. Quinoa is a versatile and quick-cooking grain, so it made for an excellent substitution for the couscous. In this recipe, simply cook the quinoa according to package directions. If you really want to enhance flavor without adding a lot of calories, substitute chicken or vegetable broth for the water when cooking the quinoa.

This salad can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature. It’s great as a side dish or as an entree, and even better the second day once the flavors have had a chance to come together. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

1 1/3 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
ΒΌ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
1 1/2 pints cherry, grape and/or pear tomatoes
1 packed cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
6 thin scallions, thinly sliced
1 lemon for zest and juice
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese (about 1 cup)
Oil-cured olives, optional garnish

Directions

Cook quinoa according to package directions.
Meanwhile, quarter large and halve small tomatoes, and put in large bowl. Add mint and scallions. Grate about 1 1/2 tsp. zest from lemon on top.
Add quinoa to tomato mixture with olive oil, juice of half lemon, or to taste, and salt to taste; toss to combine. Add feta, and gently toss to combine. Garnish with pitted olives, if desired.

Want an easy way to cook quinoa? Check out this video:

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Photo credit: nerissa’s ring

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