This is a fantastic, very flavorful salad that is packed with nutrients. If you are unfamiliar with quinoa, it is well worth getting to know more about it. It is a nutty flavored grain that has a protein content of 12-18%, and is really high in magnesium, iron and fiber. It is also gluten free, so I like to make it for a few of my friends who have wheat allergies.
Pretty much any dish that I would typically make with couscous or even orzo, I would substitute quinoa for.
I served this the other night with roast halibut and a fresh herb sauce, but I also love it with grilled lamb or steak.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
-3 cups quinoa grains
-1 Tbs of kosher salt
-½ large sweet onion, minced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 cup thinly sliced roasted red peppers
-1 cup thinly sliced rounds of zucchini
-¼ cup kalamata olives slivered
-¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
-¼ cup red wine vinegar
-1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
-2-3 oz of dry goat cheese, crumbled
-Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1) Thoroughly rinse the quinoa in a bowl full of water, changing the water 3 times, or until the water is clear.
2) In a large pot, filled with water, add 1Tbs of kosher salt, and the 3 cups of quinoa. Bring to a light boil, and cook for about 12 minutes.
3) While the quinoa is cooking, add the minced onion, garlic, olives, peppers and zucchini to a medium sized serving bowl. Add the olive oil and vinegar to the bowl, and toss everything together and let it sit.
4) Drain the quinoa into a wide, fine sieve. Fill the same pot with a few inches of water, and bring to a simmer.
5) Place the sieve full of quinoa over the pot, and cover it with a pot lid or dishtowel to steam. Let the grains steam for about 8-10 minutes or until the grains look light and plump. Remove the sieve from the pot, and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
6) Put the hot quinoa into the bowl with all of the vegetables. The hot quinoa will slightly cook the raw onion, zucchini and garlic, and will help the olive oil and vinegar to soak into the vegetables and grains.
7) Let the salad cool, while tossing everything together. Add the parsley, and combine well.
8) Season with salt and pepper to taste, and then crumble the goat cheese over the top and serve. This can also be made the day before, refrigerated over night, and served the next day.