Confetti Quinoa Salad with Feta
and a Cilantro Almond Lemon dressing
A healthful yet hearty, tasty salad full of crunchy colorful vegies, chewy nutty quinoa, and feta cheese, with a light undertone of cilantro and lemon.
The other day I found a great deal on red quinoa in bulk at a local market. I told my boss and she asked me “what is quinoa?” Living in the foodie world as I do, I sometimes forget that not everybody knows about quinoa.
Originally cultivated in the Andes Mountains of South America, quinoa was revered as the ‘Mother Grain’ and was one of the three staple foods, along with corn and potatoes, of the ancient Incan civilization. Possibly the most nutritious of all grains, quinoa is high in protein and includes all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It is particularly high in lysine which is essential for tissue repair and growth. It is also loaded with minerals and is a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, and phosphorous. (Source: Vegan Fusion)
I much prefer the slightly chewy texture of quinoa and the nutty taste over pasta or rice. It’s about the size of couscous when cooked. Quinoa is high in fiber and has a low glycemic factor which makes it a good choice for diabetics. It’s also naturally gluten free. (However, quinoa processing is often performed in facilities that also process other grain based foods so take care in choosing your quinoa if you need to avoid gluten altogether.)
You can eat this salad as a side dish if you like … or as a meal! It makes for a delicious lunch that you can feel good about eating.
- 1 normal-sized cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 cup red onion, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 cups of cooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup of tomato-basil-flavored feta cheese crumbles
- 1/4 cup cilantro almond pesto (recipe here)
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 Tablespoons water or white wine
- Chop up the vegies and mix them up in a mixing bowl. Stir in the cooked quinoa.
- Make the dressing by stirring up the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Pour it over the quinoa/vegie mixture and stir to coat all the salad.
- Fold in the feta cheese, garnish the top with fresh basil or cilantro leaves and a bit more crumbled feta.
Cook time doesn't include the cook time for the quinoa. I cook my quinoa just the same as I do rice: 2 cups of water, 1 cup quinoa, 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 - 30 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.