Quinoa is a very “in” food at the moment. Everywhere I look, I see quinoa. I see quinoa recipes all over the net. I see it on the dinner plate of friends and family. It is even present at the salad bar in my building’s cafeteria. Quinoa has definitely hit the mainstream.
As part of my goal to eat more whole grains and a greater variety of whole grains, this winter I decided it was time to give quinoa a try. My favorite result so far is this Greek Quinoa Salad.
Although quinoa is new to me, it is in fact a very ancient food. It was domesticated in the South American Andes 3,000 to 4,000 years ago and became a staple in the diet of people of that region.
Quinoa is treated as a grain and is often ground into flour. Despite this, it is a seed, not a grain. The quinoa plant is closely related to beets, spinach and Swiss chard.
One of quinoa’s most interesting nutritional values is its protein content. Quinoa is higher in protein than most cereals, although not as high as beans and legumes. Unlike most cereals, quinoa has complete protein, as it contains all essential amino acids. It is also a source of iron and of several B vitamins.
So far I’ve been using quinoa in salads. I’ve been trying out different types of grain salads and legume salads to include in our lunches. At work Greg does not have access to a refrigerator or a microwave. What he brings needs to be safe for consumption if only cooled with a small ice pack. It must also taste good eaten cool or at room temperature. This Greek quinoa salad fits the bill, and tastes great too.
As a bonus, this salad is gluten-free. Neither Greg nor I have issues with gluten, but my sister and her two children are both gluten intolerant. This Greek quinoa salad can make an appearance at family gatherings (we always share the responsibility of bringing food) and everyone can partake. It’s also a great substitute for a Greek pasta salad to bring to potlucks, especially if you don’t know what food sensitivities others might have.
I love the fresh flavours of Greek vinaigrette. It feeds my obsession with fresh herbs and garlic, and the lemon brightens the flavour. Greg also enjoys Greek salad, so this is a win-win.
I’ve also discovered a new product recently that I love in this vinaigrette. It’s part of the President’s Choice (PC) Black Label collection. It’s a grape condiment that I am using in the place of red wine vinegar. It is called Lambrusco Grape Condiment. I find it smoother and sweeter than red wine vinegar. If you are able to find this product, I recommend that you give it a try. If you don’t have access to this product, red wine vinegar absolutely works too.
Recipe: Greek Quinoa Salad
Greek Vinaigrette – makes about ½ cup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons PC Lambrusco grape condiment or red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 large clove garlic (or 2 small cloves), chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried)
- ½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried)
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- Put all ingredients in small bowl and whisk well.
Greek Quinoa Salad – makes 2 meal or 4 side servings
- ½ cup quinoa, uncooked
- 1 cup water
- Greek vinaigrette to taste (recipe above)
- 1/3 cup sliced Kalamata olives
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I prefer the taste of those packed in oil)
- 2” piece English cucumber, chopped
- Place quinoa in fine mesh strainer and rinse under cool water, rubbing quinoa together. This is to remove any remaining saponins in the quinoa, which creates a bitter taste.
- Bring one cup water to a boil in a pot with a lid. Add quinoa to water and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes, keeping pot covered.
- Fluff quinoa and add it to a medium size bowl. Add Greek vinaigrette and stir to coat quinoa.
- Add Kalamata olives, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and cucumber. Toss salad to mix ingredients.
- Refrigerate to 30 to 45 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
Have you discovered quinoa? If so, what is your favorite quinoa dish?