Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Oh my goodness. As I type this, I am sitting in a sweltering room, leaking sweat from the back of my chubby knees and wondering why the hell it hasn't rained in seven days. I know I moan and groan a lot during winter when it actually does rain, but it is really too bloody hot. Global warming, damn you.

When it's this hot out, I don't really enjoy being outside at all, so I usually just sit indoors and stare at the fan with a tall pitcher of iced tea and do nothing. But of course, my tummy gets all rumbly because I'm a greedy person, so I have to get up grudgingly and make some food.

Usually all I really crave in this weather is some lovely pinot grigio and prosciutto wrapped melon slices. But today I discovered I had some lovely wild king salmon fillets in the freezer and thought a Mediterranean style salad with some cooling cucumbers would make a lovely supper. The CSA also brought along some really beautiful heirloom cherry tomatoes that were just so cute and tasty (always seems wrong to put tasty and cute in the same sentence)!

This recipe is my take on the classic Mediterranean couscous salad, except that it uses quinoa and white wine vinegar. Quinoa is much better for you and works as a one dish meal in almost anything since it contains both carbs and protein. This recipe also makes about enough servings to last you through the week, so you can just be lazy and lie in a bath of ice cubes instead.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Makes about 8 servings

1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions, cooled and fluffed *see note
2 medium English cucumbers, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1.5 pint cherry, grape or heirloom cherry tomatoes
10 large Italian basil leaves (or about 20 smaller ones), julienned
10 large mint leaves (or about 20 smaller ones), julienned

For the vinaigrette

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine quinoa, vegetables, mint and basil in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette and add in to the quinoa salad. Toss well to combine. Serve with salmon fillets or tuna kebabs or sprinkle feta cheese over and eat as is!

*Note: To make perfect quinoa for a salad so that it doesn't turn out too mushy, always wash your quinoa well, strain and use 1 1/4 cup water to 1 cup quinoa. Once your quinoa is cooked, allow it to steam, covered for an additional 5 minutes.

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