With the weather finally warming up the summer salad season has officially started. It’s time for summer parties, barbecues, gatherings and spending plenty of time outdoors with family and friends.
Who is excited? I love this time of a year, soaking up the sun, spending time in nature and just enjoying the warm weather. Salads are so easy to make, go virtually with anything and just perfect for this time of a year.
This Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is a gluten-free vegan salad that’s perfect for those with alternative diets.
In this Mediterranean style salad I’ve combined the superfood quinoa with fresh summer vegetables to make the most tasty refreshing dish that everyone will love. The ingredients that I’ve used really remind me of summer.
I have a family in Spain and in Portugal and during summer months tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, parsley, extra virgin olive oil and lemon are the ingredients used almost in every meal. In fact my mother in law has a lemon tree in her garden which is always full of huge fragrant lemons ready to be picked.
Quinoa is a little less common, but works amazingly well in salads in any form. I’m a huge fan of this tiny grain and use it often in my cooking.
When cooking quinoa you have to be careful not overcooking it, especially if you’re using it in a salad. Most of the cooking instructions on the packaging tell you to use way too much water.
The ratio that I find works well is 1 part of quinoa to 1 1/2 part of water. So for 1 cup of quinoa use 1 1/2 cups of water. Always rinse the quinoa first under plenty of running water, drain well and simmer covered until all the water has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
Once cooked, leave to stand for 5 minutes covered, this will give it time to finish off cooking. Never stir it until it’s ready. Fluff up with a fork and you should end up with a lovely fluffy quinoa.
Leave the quinoa to cool down completely while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Wash and chop all the veggies and then stir into the cooled quinoa. I’ve kept the seasoning simple using fresh parsley, olive oil and lemon and that’s just perfect for me.
There are lots of flavors in this salad and I feel it doesn’t need any more than that. Saying that if you like, you could also add some fresh mint, little bit of balsamic vinegar or anything else that you might like. Any type of olives would also work fine.
This is a high protein salad and you can happily eat this dish as a main course. Works beautifully with some fresh leafy green salad on a side or topped with avocado for some extra healthy fats. Enjoy:)
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1½ cups chickpeas (1 can)
- 1 medium cucumber, chopped
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 cup kalamata olives, chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- sea salt
- black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lemon, juice
- Measure 1 cup of quinoa, place into mesh strainer and rinse under plenty of running water. Place into medium pot and add 1½ cups of water. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer covered for about 15 minutes until all the water has evaporated. Take off the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes with the lid on. Fluff up with a fork and place into mixing bowl. Leave to cool down.
- Drain chickpeas.
- Wash and chop cucumber and tomatoes.
- Peel and chop red onion.
- Remove pits from kalamata olives and roughly chop.
- Roughly chop parsley.
- Add everything to cooled quinoa and stir together.
- Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
- Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.
- Stir everything together and check for seasoning.
- Place into the fridge until ready to serve.