Mediterranean Quinoa Power UP Salad

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You guys all know how much I love a delicious quinoa salad (Exhibits A, B, C and D right here) – but this one just might be the all-time winner. Since it was 73°F / 23°C (!!!) in Boston yesterday, I figured I’d whip up this warm weather favorite – bright, refreshing and super flavorful – perfect for the first GORGEOUS day of the year! It combines a lot of my favorite summer flavors into one filling-without-being-heavy dish, perfect for your dinner dance party while listening to George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album with the windows open, bringing to a summer BBQ (and simultaneously becoming the most popular person there because this dish is the fan fave) or just because you want something SUPER tasty. High in protein, fiber and veggies, it’s filling enough for a full meal. And it’s just really, really good – it’s that simple. Don’t be discouraged by the long list of ingredients – once the farmer’s market’s opens up and local produce arrives on the scene, you will probably already have a lot of these ingredients on hand. It’s a great way to use up extra fresh herbs, and you can tailor the ingredients to what you have available (make it easy on yourself, yo!). And, of course, it’s vegetarian and gluten free to please the masses (it’s easily vegan, as well – just substitute this awesome Mock Feta Cheese recipe I found for the feta). Here we go!! *~*~*Insert Summer Vibes*~*~*

Mediterranean Quinoa Power UP Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dry quinoa
  • 2 cups of veggie broth
  • 2 handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped (~2 cups)
  • 1 16-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 handful of kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese*
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • Several shakes of dried oregano (or substitute 2 – 3 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano)
  • 1/4 cup of hemp seeds, heaping
  • 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

*Ok, truth time – I added about 1/3 of a pound of feta, which is closer to 1 1/2 cups. 🙂

Directions

Step One: Start your quinoa. Bring the veggie broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, stir in the quinoa. Allow the quinoa to simmer, covered, on low for about 20 minutes, or until all the broth is absorbed.
Step Two: While the quinoa is simmering away, prep your veggies. Combine the beans, tomatoes, pepper, onion, olives, cheese, herbs and spinach into a very large bowl (it’s really a lot of stuff – use the biggest one you’ve got!).
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This dish is brought to you by…. This amazing/gigantic popcorn bowl I bought at Target when I was a freshman in college. 😀

Step Three: Once the quinoa is finished, you can set it aside and let it cool completely. Or if you’re Impatient Annie like I am, let it cool for about 5 minutes and then dump the quinoa into the bowl with the veggies.
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The steaming hot quinoa actually makes the feta kinda like melt-y and extra delicious. YUM.

Step Four: Whip up the dressing. Whisk together the vinegar and mustard, then slowly add the olive oil to form an emulsion. Pour over salad, sprinkle the hemp seeds on top and toss well to mix.
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As you can see (we are about to get Chemistry Nerdy up in here), there is a distinct meniscus between the oil and vinegar layer – this is NOT an emulsion. If you want your dish to be as bomb diggity as it possibly can, take the extra time to really emulsify this dressing. Otherwise, you can be lazy like me and just kind of dump the ingredients together, swoosh it once or twice and then dump it in. 🙂

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Add those hemp seeds and give it a good stir.

Step Five: Taste, season with salt and pepper and enjoy! 😀

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SERIOUSLY – SO FRIGGIN GOOD! You guys are going to love this. It’s just really tasty. Okay, and I have some packed for my lunch today, and I totally broke into my lunch pack before 10 am to sneak a few bites. Shhhh, don’t tell. 😉 This salad will be responsible for powering my long run after work tonight – it’s full of all the good stuff. Nomssss. 😀

I hope that you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I did – it’s deeeeeeeeelicious. YUM.

Happy Tuesday, all!! 😀

With warmth,

L

10 thoughts on “Mediterranean Quinoa Power UP Salad

  1. Yum!! this looks sooo good!! i found a fantastic sheep’s milk feta at trader joes (the brand is Pastures of Eden) and it is literally one of the best things I’ve ever tasted….I definitely want to make this and add probably way too much feta 😛 and can you BELIEVE how nice it was yesterday?! Amazing how the sun and a little warmth was so completely uplifting!!

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  2. Quinoa power, I like it! Of course, I only cook quinoa for two now – have gotten tired of pronouncing it for my in-laws every time. I also can’t cook with artichokes for them. They’re super suspicious of foods they don’t know.

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