This perfect summertime salad is packed with lots of colorful vegetables, a little feta, fresh herbs and an olive oil vinaigrette. And Quinoa, the ancient high-protein, gluten-free grain (really a seed) of the Inca Indians, makes a hearty base for this delicious meal.
Make 4-6 servings
1 uncooked cup quinoa (red, white or tri-color blend)
2 cups water
3 mini cucumbers or 1 English cucumber
12-15 pitted Kalamata olives
½ small red onion, finely chopped
3-4 ounces feta cheese
18 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
¼ cup minced fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves
1 can (15-ounce) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Kosher or sea salt and black pepper
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1. Place quinoa in a fine sieve, and rinse well under cold running water for a few minutes. Place rinsed quinoa in a small (2-quart) pan, and add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover pan with a tight-fitting lid and turn heat to low. Cook quinoa for 18 minutes. Move the pan off the hot burner, and allow sit for about 7 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and turn out onto a large, flat, rimmed baking sheet, waxed paper or foil. Allow quinoa to cool. The larger the surface area, the faster it will cool.
2. While quinoa is cooking or cooling, prep vegetables. Quarter cucumbers lengthwise. Cut quarters into halves, and then chop finely crosswise. Halve the olives. Chop the onion finely. Cut the feta into very small cubes. Halve the tomatoes. Finely chop the bell pepper.
3. When quinoa is cool, place in a large bowl. Add the vegetables and cheese; mix gently. Serve dressing on the side. Extra dressing will keep a few days in the refrigerator for use over salads or for drizzling over vegetables.
Tip: Quinoa must be rinsed because of a natural outer bitter coating called saponin. Cooked quinoa freezes well, so make a large batch to save time in the kitchen for other recipes.