Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

  Let me just begin this post by saying that this may in fact be one of THE BEST new recipes I have ever
tried!!  I do love food, and I am semi-experimental with new food combinations, but in all seriousness.... this recipe far exceeded my expectations and was the highlight of my short 15 minute teacher lunch break this past week!!  The magnificent burst of flavor in every single bite and aesthetic appeal of this colorful dish happily drowned out (if only for a moment....) the all too familiar sound of, " and so is putting his green beans in his chocolate milk" and "Can you open my ketchup packet?"  :)

   So, probably like many of you, I have been seeing "quinoa," pronounced KEEN-WAH, (which I so called KIN-OH-UH for like...ever!!) in stores for quite some time. I've heard about it on Dr. Oz, and I even tried some at my sister's church in Atlanta one Sunday when a friend of hers brought it to a church potluck lunch, but for some reason I have been skeptical to try actually making it myself.  I guess maybe because it just looks complicated....almost fancy.  But let me just tell you now...this may have been one of the easiest dishes I have ever whipped up! No, seriously....  I mean, can you boil a pot of water? CHECK!  Can you put the quinoa in the pot?  CHECK! Can you chop up some veggies with a knife? CHECK! Then you can make this amazing Mediterranean inspired dish.

   So, before sharing this recipe, let me just tell you why you may want to run to the store right now and buy all the ingredients to try this mouth-watering dish.  First, quinoa is a several thousand year old food and is often called a grain, though it really is a member of the spinach, beet, and tumbleweed family. It originates in the Andean region of South America and is high in protein, yet gluten free, therefore it is a perfect food for those who have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive. It contains all 9 essential amino acids, and it is also a great source of dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, and calcium! It is truly a super food!

    Okay, you foodies, on to the recipe:

        - 1 cup dry organic quinoa
        - 2 1/2 cups water
        - 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
        - 3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
        - 3/4 cup block feta cheese (always seems to turn out better for me than the already crumbled kind)
        - 1 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil
        - 1/2 lemon, juiced
        - 1 tsp oregano
        - 1 tsp salt
        - 1/2 tsp black pepper

    Put the water and quinoa into a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Stir the quinoa and set it aside to cool.


    While the quinoa is cooking, slice the grape/cherry tomatoes into quarters.  Slice the olives as well.  Crumble the feta cheese. 

Add the tomatoes, olives, and feta into a medium sized bowl.  Add the quinoa, spices, olive oil,  and lemon juice, and toss until completely blended.  Store in an air tight container in the fridge. 

    And....voila!!! There you have it....Mediterranean quinoa salad.  I took this to school for lunch Monday - Friday of this past week, and I still had enough to sneak a forkful or two when I came home as a little snack before working out.  I tried to get my husband to try it (I even told him I'd pick out the tomatoes), but he was NOT having it! He's a little turned off by a fear of the unknown when it comes to food. But he promised that if I make it again (which I totally will!!), he'd try it.  So I will update later with whether or not this dish is picky husband approved! Haha.  Happy Saturday friends!!!

  - Beth

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