Mediterranean Quinoa Salad: An Ancient Seed with a Modern Taste

Julia Mueller | The Roasted Root

This Mediterranean Quinoa salad is a flavorful and unique appetizer or snack item. It's also gluten free! So enjoy today!

Quinoa Salad Photo

It seems like only a couple of years ago that quinoa was considered the mystery unpronounceable grain that was only purchasable at natural food stores.

Quinoa - pronounced keen-wah, not keen-o-a, or if you’re my mother, keen-oh-way -  is actually an ancient seed related to Swiss chard and beets.

Who would have thought? Quinoa sprouts like a grain, it’s used like a grain, it tastes grain-esque... but nope, mysterious quinoa is actually a seed with all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is also high in riboflavin, has slow-burning carbohydrates and is naturally gluten-free.

Recently, the quinoa tables have turned. Not only is it a pronounceable household name, but it can be found at any grocery store. The well-loved seed is a popularly used in place of pasta, incorporated into various salads, mixed with milk and fruit for porridge-like breakfasts, mixed with vegetables to make veggie burger patties, and the list goes on and on.

One cup of dry quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked, which makes cooking for large families or get-togethers a breeze.

Quinoa Salad Picture

Which brings me to my next point. I love making quinoa salad in place of pasta salad to bring to barbecues in the summer time. Gone are the days of mayo-drenched potato salad.

Quinoa salads are an excellent gluten-free option, they’re healthy and they taste great, making them a real crowd pleaser. Mediterranean quinoa salad is my all-time favorite because it’s chock full of flavorful goodies, giving it a huge flavor punch. Plus it goes with just about any meat or fish recipe!

How do you make light and fluffy quinoa? The ticket to perfect quinoa is rinsing it very well before cooking. Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin which can make it taste bitter when it is not rinsed off. For this reason, rinsing the quinoa in a fine strainer until the water that comes off of it is clear, not cloudy, is key to a delicious, fluffy quinoa.

Between the tangy sun-dried tomatoes, olives, feta and the nutty healthy quinoa, this salad is a staple in my house. The whole thing can be made in under 40 minutes, making it a steal of a deal! Barbecue season is coming – time to stock up on your keen-wah!

Check out the recipe below and also consider this Quinoa granola recipe for another great use of the versatile seed.

    12 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quinoa, uncooked
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 8 1/2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, julienne cut, drained
  • 1 12-ounce jar kalamata olives, drained and chopped into thirds
  • 1/2 bag baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Begin by preparing the quinoa following the instructions on the package. Use a larger pot than necessary so that you have room to add spinach once the quinoa is finished cooking. (note: the key to a great quinoa is rinsing it very well and/or soaking it before cooking!)
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, sauté the red onion over medium heat in one tablespoon of olive oil until it is completely soft and browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup of olive oil, and the lemon juice.
  4. Once the quinoa is finished cooking, remove it from the heat and add the baby spinach to the pot, putting the cover back on to help steam the spinach.
  5. Allow the spinach to steam and soften about 5 minutes and then mix it in to the quinoa.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, add the quinoa/spinach, sautéed onion, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes.
  7. Pour the oil/vinegar/lemon dressing over the salad and mix everything together.
  8. Taste test the salad and add salt as necessary.
  9. Sprinkle the feta cheese on top and serve either warm or cold.

Notes

A can of sun-dried tomatoes is typically 8.5 ounces.


Quinoa-salad-picture

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Julia-mueller

About Julia

Julia is known for her healthy, balanced approach to all kinds of recipes, vegetarian and meat alike, on her blog, The Roasted Root. She shares her commitment to delectable vegetarian dishes as a Vegetarian fanatic, proving that you can make the whole family happy without the need for meat.

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    2 Comments New Comment Subscribe

    Stephie-swope
    eat-your-heart-out.net

    Yummmm, I love mediterranean-y salads, and I love that pretty much anyone can eat quinoa! Such a perfect summer picnic option.

    Amber

    I think I just found what I'm taking to ALL the summer barbecues!




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