I have had a long-standing desire to eat healthier and mix up more vegetarian meals into the mix. One of the best options in this environment is quinoa, a great hi-protein grain that is part of a great vegetarian diet. I have played with a few recipes including this one for what I called Summer Quinoa Salad a few years ago. I wanted to play with it a bit to get rid of the tomatoes for the Mrs. and add in some other flavors. I made this the first time and it came out great. I loved adding in the roasted red peppers and kalamata olives. These are nice parts of the Mediterranean diet - so that is how this recipe got its name. Even the Mrs. loved it! While it does have a good deal of protein per serving (sorry I did not figure that out), but as made, the salad has around 211 calories per cup. That might seem lot a bit much. but quinoa adds protein and calories to the mix. Serve it on a bed of spinach for a more filling lunch or side.
Ingredients (Serves 8-10):
1 cup Quinoa (white or tri-colored)
1/2 cup Pine nuts
1/3 cup Olive oil
4 tbsp Lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Kosher salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp Black pepper (adjust to taste)
1 Cucumber, peeled and finely diced (if using a seedless cuke - leave the peel on)
2 Roasted red peppers, diced
14-16 Kalamata olives, chopped
1 small or 1/2 medium Red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup Parsley (fresh), chopped
1. Rinse quinoa under running water to make sure it is clean.
2. Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for around 15-20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove pot from heat and let cool in a large mixing bowl.
3. In a small saute pan over medium-low heat, toast the pine nuts (shaking the pan often so they do not burn) for around 3-5 minutes until lightly browned. Add pine nuts to the mixing bowl with the quinoa.
4. In a small bowl, add olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, kosher salt and black pepper. Mix thoroughly with a whisk.
5. In the large mixing bowl (with the quinoa and pine nuts), add diced cucumber, roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, red onion, and parsley. Add olive oil mix and thoroughly blend the salad.
Enjoy as a side or as an entree with a bed of spinach or greens.