I’m not sure I would have thought to cook with olives if it weren’t for the kids from the books, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” My children read the books years ago and when my (now) 15-year-old son read about the puttanesca spaghetti served for dinner, he had to try it. I’m not sure he wanted to actually cook it as much as he wanted to eat it but we helped him cook it for dinner, following this recipe. After that delicious meal, I’ve been trying to think of ways to add olives to my food ever since.
A meat-free dish is always more satisfying with cheese and olives in the mix and this Mediterranean quinoa salad has both of those ingredients. It’s good as a main dish or as a side. It’s meat-free and gluten-free, and if I hide the feta cheese in the back of the refrigerator before my teenagers eat it, it’s an easy dinner on a hot summer night, too.
I made this recipe up for my birthday dinner that was several months ago. It’s filled with ingredients that I like to eat separately and so I thought, “Hey, why not put them altogether in a bowl, call it a salad, and have someone else prepare it for my birthday dinner? I’ll just sit back and proclaim whether or not it’s seasoned properly.” Oh, yes, now that is a birthday present!!
Mediterranean quinoa salad
Ingredients – salad
- 1 cup quinoa prepared according to instructions and cooled (see notes below on cooling)
- 2 cups tomatoes, diced
- 2 cucumbers, diced (seeds removed and peeled if you like, or you can leave them, either is fine)
- 1/2 cup onion, diced
- 1/2 pound feta cheese
- 3/4 cup olive mix, pits removed, roughly chopped
Ingredients – dressing
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 lemon, juice of 1 fresh lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt, pepper to taste
- Cook quinoa according to instructions and cool.
- Chop all vegetables and add to quinoa once cooled.
- Break apart feta cheese into small pieces and add to quinoa and vegetables.
- In a small glass jar, place all dressing ingredients and shake well with lid on.
- Pour dressing over quinoa, vegetables, and feta cheese.
- Stir and enjoy.
- After cooking the quinoa, I put it in a large glass Pyrex bowl and kind of spread it around with the back of a spoon. Getting the quinoa cooled is easier if it’s not a big pile so spreading it around gets lots of air on it which also helps it from cooling in clumps but is more separate, individual kernels.
- Zucchini could easily be substituted for the cucumbers in this recipe if you have those in your garden.
- I use anywhere from 1/2 cup to 1 cup of olive mix, depending on how much I have or how much I’ve kept my family from sampling on before I make this recipe. Also, if tapenade (olives already diced up) is the same price as whole olives, I go with the tapenade instead. This is a little time saver because the pits are already removed and it’s nicely chopped up.
- On a hot summer day, I like to make this early in the morning and then have it ready for a cool dinner.
- Shake the jar over your kitchen sink that way when it leaks, it goes into the sink. (Someday, I’ll remember to do this, too.)
- For my birthday dinner, I had this lamb and an arugula salad. It was delicious!
A PDF version of this recipe is available here: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
What’s your favorite salad to serve on a hot summer day? Do you cook with quinoa?
Go Gingham related links:
Simple summer salad with tomatoes and cucumbers – oh, and onions and fresh dill
Shrimp and quinoa salad – a summer favorite
Egg salad sandwiches - you’ll wish you had chickens
Three easy grains to cook – including quinoa – as easy as 1-2-3!
Cook at home – fearlessly!
Go Gingham food philosophy – yes, there is such a thing