The inspiration for this recipe? A half can olives lying in my refrigerator, a lone carrot and some fresh homegrown mint and cilantro 🙂 Also it does not hurt to say that I am on a healthy diet regimen “again” and looking more at soups and salads these past few days. So, here comes the Mediterranean inspired quinoa salad. It is super-easy to prepare and has the promise of being very tasty, healthy and filling.
- 1 cup- quinoa (you can see the directions for cooking quinoa here)
- 1 small tomato-chopped (even better are grape tomatoes- I ran out of them)
- 1/4 cup Kalamata olives-chopped
- 1 carrot- grated or sliced finely
- Handful of slivered almonds (substitute per your liking)
- Fresh chopped cilantro/coriander
- Handful of chopped mint leaves (optional)
- 1 large lemon
- Salt and fresh ground pepper- to taste
- Olive oil-1 Tbsp
- Cook quinoa till you see the white spiral around the seed. Fluff with a fork.
- Add chopped tomato, carrot, olives and nuts. Toss to combine.
- Season with salt and ground pepper.
- Add chopped herbs.
- Drizzle the salad with olive oil. Gently toss to coat.
- Squeeze a lemon all over and toss again.
- Serve it as it is or cold (tastes best either ways)
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Quinoa (pronounced as “keen-wah”) originated in the Andes region, where it was successfully domesticated 5,000 years ago for human consumption. It is a grain-like crop (the edible portion is actually the seed) which owing to its high protein content and delicate texture has become quite popular to substitute more starchier rice and pasta. Other than being a complete protein source, quinoa is also high in iron, magnesium, and fiber.
- Quinoa- 1 cup
- Water- 2 cups
- Red Bell pepper- 2 large
- Tomato- 1 large
- Onion- 1 medium
- Cilantro- 1 bunch
- Mint- 2 sprigs
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Coriander seeds- 1 tsp- optional
- Measure 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water.
- Rinse quinoa thoroughly in water, soak for 5-10 min. Drain. (Washing quinoa removes a natural coating called saponin, which can make it taste bitter.
- Add 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of water in a sauce pan. Add some salt, 1 tsp olive oil. Bring to boil.
- Lower the heat and cook for 15-20 min until done. You should be able to see that the quinoa has turned a little translucent and see tiny white spirals curling around the quinoa seeds.
Red bell pepper and cilantro sauce:
- Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a pan
- Add chopped onion and fry till brown.
- Add freshly grated ginger, followed by tomato.
- Cut cilantro stems into pieces and add them (This is the best use I ever put my cilantro to, the stems give a great flavor, and you are bound to love it- provided you are as crazy for cilantro as me).
- Cook till mushy.
- Stir in cut bell pepper and fry for 4-5 min followed by cilantro and mint leaves.
- Cook for 2-3 min. Add crushed coriander seeds (optional).
- Grind to a smooth paste.
- Return to heat and cook stirring for 2 min.
- Add freshly crushed pepper.
- Adjust salt to taste.
- Add 1 tsp of olive oil in a pan and stir in finely chopped onion. Cook till browned.
- Add 2 tbsp on bell pepper, cilantro sauce.
- Cook till oil starts leaving sides.
- Add cooked quinoa and lightly stir to coat.
- Fry for 2-3 min.
- Transfer to a plate and serve with generous amount of sauce.
- The seasoning step mentioned above is to add a little more flavor to the quinoa and can completely be omitted.
- Some recipes call for addition of herbs like rosemary and spices like black pepper while quinoa is cooking for a little extra flavor.