Healthy/Geeky: The Astonishing Super-Powered Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa, as in, “It was really keen-wa when Johnny took me to the soda shoppe. I think he’s going to give me his Varsity jacket!”) is any superhero’s best friend – it’s a complete protein, and considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet, cultivated by Incan tribes in the Andes Mountains of South America. I’m pretty sure Hoth or Caprica doesn’t have anything comparable (duh, look at the climate on Hoth, you idiot!). I’m also pretty sure there was an Indiana Jones movie about the quest for the ancient Quinoa grain of the dark Incan mountain.

And so, my secret recipe – for this nearly perfect, completely vegetarian meal (great to bring to cookouts!), with tons of protein, healthy veggies and fats, and a little cheese thrown in there for good measure. Enjoy, healthy geekies!
 

The Astonishing Super-Powered, Protein-Packed Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

(adapted from a recipe by Coulter)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vegetable broth or stock
  • 1 tbs garlic salt/powder (or to taste)
  • 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Grain Quinoa)
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion, diced
  • 1 large red, orange or yellow bell pepper, diced (mix up the colors! you can also use jarred roasted red peppers if you prefer)
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh or dried chives
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil*

*a salad dressing will also work for this instead of the vinegar and oil – balsamic vinaigrette or a red wine and vinegar dressing is best, and you’ll only need a few tablespoons – the flavor goes a long way!

Directions

  1. Start by sauteeing the onions and garlic salt/powder in some light olive oil in the large saucepan you’ll use to cook the quinoa. Once pleasantly browned, pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. You won’t need to stir it, but keep an eye on it that it doesn’t get too dry.
  2. Once the quinoa is finished cooking, dump it into a large mixing bowl, where you’ll want to immediately, gently, stir in the crumbled feta cheese (so it gets a little melty over the grains – nomnomnom!), balsamic vinegar, olive oil. De-seed the lemon and squeeze the juice over the quinoa mixture – stir everything, then let sit for 5-10 minutes, depending on how patient you are!
  3. Once a bit cooler, the fresh veggies go in – stir in the bell pepper, cucumber, olives, chives, until evenly mixed. Serve warm or, I prefer letting it sit in the fridge overnight to get cool and flavorful.
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