Today’s post is from Heather at Whole Food Studio, where beginners in the kitchen can find clean eating simple meal ideas. She shares cooking tips along with a little history, should you also need a dinner conversation starter.
Whenever you grab an herb for garnish, is parsley the one you think of first?
Parsley is a powerhouse miracle worker with either tight and curly, or rugged and flat, leaves.
Packed with antioxidants and vitamins, the herb freshens the look and taste of a dish and adds texture.
And don’t forget to use the stems! Toss them in a homemade bouillon.
Add to hot water for a refreshing cup of steeped, pale-green mint and parsley tea. It’s a spectacular combination.
Chop parsley stems and mix with cream cheese and shaved parmesan cheese. Then pile this cheese mix high inside small portobello mushroom caps.
Bake until golden brown . . .
If you can’t go a day without parsley, then it could be time to try this Mediterranean-inspired Quinoa salad.
Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, is an organic grain once eaten thousands of years ago by the Inca. Today quinoa is a superfood, belonging to the same family as spinach and Swiss chard. The grain is hardy and grows in high altitudes, making it ideal if you happen to live in the Andes.
Quinoa’s small round grains grow in three interesting colors; red, white and black. I used ‘Antique White,’ but you can see how others easily create a fabulous looking salad. Imagine if you had all three; you could mix them for a tri-color effect!
What I like most about this salad is how easy it is to make and delicious to eat – even the next day. But don’t even consider another herb as a substitute. Without parsley, this salad is not the same.
3 Top Quinoa Salad Tips:
Is your quinoa pre-rinsed?
Check whether your quinoa has been pre-rinsed before you start cooking.
Here’s one super quick way to know: packaged quinoa is more likely to be pre-rinsed than loose quinoa bought in bulk. I’ve had the unpleasant experience of tasting a very bitter quinoa dish which put me off this grain for many years.
Much later I discovered the cause was from saponins. The natural protective coating on each grain deters animals and birds out in the wild from taking a nibble.
The good news is, saponins are removed with water.
If you are still unsure, place your grains in a fine sieve and rinse under running water for 2 minutes. The water will foam up like soap suds if any saponins are present.
Let your quinoa drain and dry in the sieve for at least 30 minutes, before dry roasting in a frying pan over medium heat.
Once the grains are golden brown, cook your quinoa in water, according to directions on the package.
Yes, dry roasting is another step, but I think the results are worth every extra minute. These small grains have an extraordinary depth of flavor, not to mention the smell, that dry roasting brings out. I’m quite sure you’ll find it difficult to skip this step the next time you work with quinoa.
Prepare your salad at least 30 minutes before dining:
I recommend preparing your salad at least 30 minutes before dining.
You’ll give the tang of lime zest a chance to blend with the natural saltiness of feta and olives. Include the earthiness of quinoa and you’ll be transported to a new taste experience.
I often start with zesting lime over the feta giving the essential oil a little longer to soak into the cheese.
Tip for cutting quinoa salad recipe half:
If you’re cooking for one or two, I recommend you still cook one cup of quinoa but then halve the remaining ingredients in this recipe.
You’ll make a smaller salad but have extra quinoa for later. There’s nothing else like a quick quinoa garnish for an extra rugged, healthy salad.
It keeps for 4-5 days in the fridge and on days I don’t feel like meat, I’ll also add quinoa to stuffed cabbage rolls or zucchini lasagna.
You’ll have a naturally gluten-free, low glycemic index dish that is high in plant protein.
Mediterranean-inspired quinoa salad is the perfect side dish for meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables.
I hope you are inspired to try something a little out of the ordinary.
Leftover Quinoa Salad Idea:
Do you have some leftover Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad? Here is an idea to change it up a bit.
1/3 c. thinly sliced raw red cabbage
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
Parsley to garnish (optional)
Toss raw red cabbage with the Mediterranean-inspired salad for an extra pop of color and crunch.
Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.
Garnish with a little chopped parsley and serve with a small platter of nuts, dried fruit, cheese, and crackers.
Equipment Used for this Recipe:
- Medium Skillet
- Medium Saucepan with Lid
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Cutting Board
- 8” Chef’s Knife
- Citrus Zester
- Citrus Juicer
- Mixing Bowls
- Salad Bowl and Servers
- Kitchen Scale (optional)
Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad
- 1 c. quinoa preferably dry roasted first
- 2 limes zest, and juice
- 4 oz. Feta cheese crumbled
- 2 oz. Kalamata olives pitted and chopped (if you don’t have scales, that’s between 10 – 11 large olives)
- 1 T. olive brine more or less, according to your taste
- ¼ c. fresh parsley stems removed and chopped (Reserve the stems for your next stock or compost)
- Optional: Black pepper to taste
- Heat dry quinoa in a frying pan until fragrant and golden brown.
- Cook quinoa according to package directions. (Mine said: bring 2 cups water to a boil, add 1 c quinoa and reduce heat to LOW.
- Simmer with lid ON for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.)
- Fluff quinoa with a fork and allow the grains to cool.
- Stir in lime zest, lime juice, Feta cheese, chopped olives, brine, and fresh parsley until thoroughly combined.
- Season with black pepper, to taste.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Top off with an extra chopped olive or two and a quick zest of lime just before serving.
- Cover and store any leftovers in the fridge.
It will crumble into much smaller pieces, but you should enjoy the flavor more.