Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
As the temperatures climb, and our interest in hovering over the stove drops, we’ve been dreaming up simple salads that can be thrown together in minutes and feed us for a couple of days. This one is a hodgepodge of all our favorite summer Mediterranean veggies, some fresh, some roasted. It’s also got some quinoa in it for the ancient grain lovers in the house. There’s no vinaigrette per se. Instead, we toss all the veggies with some black olives, shallots, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice — and then sprinkle on ribbons of fresh mint and basil, toasty pine nuts, and crumbles of feta cheese.
The result is one of those vibrant everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salads that has loads of texture and flavor: it’s crunchy, roasty, juicy, nutty, salty, herby, smoky, and cheesy with just a hint of puckery and briney. There’s so much going on that every bite is a little different than the next, so we never get tired of eating it. And that’s a good thing because it’s made with stuff that’s robust enough to hold up in the fridge — 15 or so minutes of oven time for a few days’ worth of awesome salad, that’s a pretty good deal.
With all the protein-packed quinoa in it, this salad makes a lovely light lunch or dinner. We’d even throw a couple eggs on it and call it breakfast. If you’re looking for something a little more filling, you could plate it with some pan-seared salmon or grilled tofu. We’ve also added shredded Gelson’s rotisserie chicken to the veggies for a heartier repast.
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium yellow squash, diced
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
½ English cucumber, diced
½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ cup roasted red peppers, diced
2 Tbsp pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 Tbsp minced shallot
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 4-oz pkg crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
2 Tbsp chiffonade mint, for garnish
2 Tbsp chiffonade basil, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 450°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini, yellow squash, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil until well coated. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread the squash mixture onto a baking sheet in 1 even layer. Roast in the oven for 13 to 16 minutes, or until one side is nicely browned and the squash are al dente.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, shallots, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, red pepper flakes, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss. Set aside.
When both the quinoa and the roasted squash mixture have cooled for a few minutes, combine them with the rest of the salad. Add the feta and pine nuts, and toss. Garnish with mint and basil.
Serve immediately at room temperature, or serve cold. Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.