Mamatoga Recipe Monday: Greek Quinoa Feta Salad

This recipe is a perfect summer salad that I got the idea for these past few hot days, but it would still be delicious and refreshing even though it is currently pouring out, or, as the girl would say, "raining nuts and meatballs". I found this recipe a few years back, and it was the first time I had cooked using quinoa. If you're unfamiliar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) it is a an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas". The Incas recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors. Their armies could march for days eating a mixture of quinoa and fat known as "war balls". We won't be making any war balls today readers, but this salad is guaranteed to give you some good energy. You can find packaged quinoa at grocery stores, or in the bulk section at Hannaford which is cheaper. You can also find it at Four Seasons. Check out the blog every Monday for a new recipe, and PLEASE send us your recipes, (with or without pictures) and we will feature your recipe on our blog!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa uncooked
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (you may use any flavor you prefer)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice from one lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced if desired
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (I personally like a lot of feta, so I add quite a bit more...)

Preparation:

Make sure you soak and rinse the quinoa before cooking it to remove any of the saponins that naturally coat quinoa seed. Since quinoa seeds are pretty small, the method I've found to be successful is to soak the amount you're planning on cooking in hot water for about ten minutes, then put a lid on the pot you're soaking them in and carefully drain the water out. I would recommend rinsing them in cold water one or two times after this as well.

Then, in a medium-large saucepan, cook the quinoa in vegetable broth for 15-20 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil.

Gently toss the quinoa together with the remaining ingredients, except feta. Pour the olive oil mixture over the quinoa.

Add more salt and pepper to taste and gently stir in the feta cheese.

You may also add any additional vegetables that you like, such as lightly steamed broccoli, snap peas or diced bell pepper.