Salad week has been a sea of old favorites, new concoctions, and all around Seriously Good Stuff. We’ve seen tear-jerking tabbouleh, party salad, chicken mole, and parmesan cups with arugula. There have been cauliflower salads, simple Caesars, and a Whole Food’s Market Rice Salad knock-off. And today? Today culminates with a Salad Week Linky-Palooza-Party in which 8 of us are posting eight new salads on the blogs and adding them to the link up. You also have an opportunity to link your favorite salads, as well. Think of it like the Grand Finale of a fireworks show. Except with more vegetables and less pyrotechnics.
That’s a whole lot of veggies flying around.
First, let’s talk about my finale salad–because so few areas in my life are All About Me–but thankfully, this blog is one of them. ;)
Greek Quinoa Salad is hands-down our favorite side dish. We eat it with absolutely everything that comes off our grill in the summer time. It’s super simple to toss together, and it can be made several hours ahead of time but still comes out a winner.
You get all the good protein and carbs from the quinoa, the crisp freshness of a summer garden, with a little cheese thrown in for good measure.
Because I think we can all agree that adding cheese to a dish is the best policy.
To make Greek Quinoa Salad, you’ll need: uncooked quinoa, a cucumber, grape tomatoes, domestic feta, and fresh mint.
A word about quinoa–if you are unfamiliar with it, know this: it has a bitter coating that must be rinsed off before cooking it or it will taste bitter. The coating could appear to encompass the entire seed, or as a darker ring around the seed–kind of like the rings around the planet Saturn.
Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under cool water, and gently run your fingers through it to loosen and wash away any bitter residue. In my experience, packaged quinoa at the local store comes pre-rinsed so the bitter rings have been removed. The bulk quinoa that I buy at our food co-op is not always pre-rinsed. Your best bet is to rinse the quinoa just in case.
Pour the quinoa into a pot of water that is at a rolling boil.
Give it a quick stir.
Pop a lid on the pot, and lower the heat to medium-low so that the water stays at a low & slow boil but doesn’t boil the water off faster than the quinoa can absorb it. Set the timer for 12 minutes.
After twelve minutes, the quinoa should have absorbed the water and clump together a bit so that you can see a few vent holes from the steam escaping from the bottom of the pot.
Use a wooden spoon to stir the quinoa to fluff it up a bit.
Then transfer the hot quinoa to a large serving bowl and allow it to cool to room temperature.
While the quinoa is cooling, tend to the salad fixin’s. Quarter the cucumbers before thinly slicing them. Then slice the tomatoes in half, crumble the feta, and chop the mint into thin ribbons. Set the fixin’s aside while you make the dressing. Yes, I’m asking you to make salad dressing. Don’t worry–it’s fun!
First, be forewarned that this is the BEST Greek salad dressing on the planet. Or at the very least, the best Greek salad dressing served at my house. I lurrrrve this stuff! Don’t let the mess o’ ingredients scare you–everything for the dressing is a household staple around here, so it won’t take but a second to get it all out. Bonus: you’ll have enough dressing leftover for other salads as well.
Toss all of the dressing ingredients into a pint-sized canning jar with a tight fitting lid.
Cap that sucker and shake what your mama gave ya–and the jar–to emulsify the dressing. I find it really helps to have dance music playing in the background. The cheesiest music you can find. You know…to set the right dressing-shaking mood. KC & the Sunshine Band is encouraged.
Fact: this Greek dressing will rock your salad-loving-world.
By the time you’re done dancing around the kitchen with the jar of dressing, the quinoa should have cooled. Add the cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta to the bowl.
Then add the fresh mint to the mix. Fresh mint adds a refreshing brightness to the salad. Give everything a quick stir to distribute the veggies…
before pouring on the Greek dressing. Remember: you’ll have way more dressing than you’ll need for this salad, so pour sparingly. I typically use about 1/3 of a cup of dressing–any more and you’ll end up with quinoa soup.
Stir the salad to coat with dressing. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
Serve Greek Quinoa Salad with additional dressing, on the side. It’s lovely on it’s own for a tasty lunch.
But it is even better with Mediterranean Inspired Chicken with Dill-Cucumber Sauce.
Be sure to take a gander at today’s other Salad Week offerings:
NanaBread’s Creole Potato Salad
Allison’s Made-Over Cabbage Ramen Salad
Lauren’s Spiced Lamb and Lentil Salad
Mad’s Zesty Steak and Arugula Salad
Monica’s Tropical Chicken Salad
Sorry about the CAPS but I get a little excited around bacon. Don’t judge.
Greek Quinoa Salad
For the Salad:
2 C. water
1 C. dry quinoa (Rinsed if the package didn’t indicated that it had been before packaging.)
1 C. cucumber, scrubbed, quartered & thinly sliced
1 C. grape tomatoes, halved
5 lg. mint leaves, torn into ribbons
4 oz. domestic feta, cubed or crumbled
1-2 tsp. fresh lemon zest, optional
For the Dressing:
½ C. red wine vinegar
½ C. light olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1 Tbs. honey Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
- Bring water to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan. Pour in quinoa into the water and stir. Cover the saucepan with a lid, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the water has been mostly absorbed and the quinoa is done. Quinoa is done when it has the texture of brown rice when bitten. (Usually after 10-12 minutes of simmer time.)
- Transfer quinoa to a serving bowl, and stir to fluff. Allow quinoa to cool completely before proceeding.
- Place all of the dressing ingredients into a pint sized canning jar with a lid. Cover the jar and shake until the dressing has emulsified.
- Once quinoa has cooled, add cucumbers, grape tomatoes, feta, and lemon zest (if using) to the bowl. Stir to distribute the vegetables and cheese.
- Lightly drizzle dressing over the salad, and toss to coat. I usually drizzle on about 1/3 cup of dressing. (Leftover dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.)
- Cover salad bowl with plastic wrap, and chill for several hours before serving.
- To serve, sprinkle with mint and serve with additional dressing on the side.