Quinoa is an absolute favorite of mine because of its versatility. And with 8 grams of complete protein per cup, it's an excellent source of plant-based protein. This salad version is so flavorful, it makes a great side for meat eaters or main dish for vegetarians. Vegan? No problem! Simply omit the cheese.
This recipe comes to about 12 cups making it a great dish for a crowd. You can also make this recipe a couple of days in advance as the flavors meld beautifully when allowed to sit. I typically make a batch of this salad and separate into containers for salads for my husband and I to eat during the week. If you aren't feeding a crowd and feel the recipe is too much, just half the ingredients.
I have made this recipe for years and find myself craving it from time to time. I love the briny saltiness of the olives, the tangy flavor from the dressing, the satisfying crunch of the cucumbers, and the bright freshness of the fresh herbs. I can easily eat 2 cups of this salad on my own as a main meal. Its that addicting.
As I mentioned before, this recipe is great for doing in steps ahead of time. I like to make a big batch of quinoa a day in advance to allow it to cool properly. The dressing can too be made in advance and mixed in before serving. I've also made this dressing without the pine nuts with no loss in flavor. This recipe is vegan friendly by simply not adding in the feta. The mint in this recipe, however, is non-negotiable!
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!
Makes approximately 12 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 3 cups of water
- 1 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
- 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup mint, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1 cup of Greek Dressing (recipe makes 1 cup)
1. Cook Quinoa: In a large pot, add water and quinoa and bring to a boil. Once boiling, simmer for 20 minutes covered. You'll know the quinoa is ready because all the water is absorbed and tiny spirals appear curled around the quinoa seed. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool completely.
2. Prep: While the quinoa is cooking, chop your tomatoes, cucumber, parsley and mint. Slice and pit your kalamata olives - if you can find a jar of olives already pitted and sliced ... buy it! It'll save you a ton of time.
3. Assemble: Find a large bowl and combine cooked and cooled quinoa, chopped veggies, fresh herbs, olives and pine nuts and give it a good toss. Add the feta cheese (if using) and the dressing, and mix until everything is well incorporated. The olives, cheese, and dressing all have salt, so I didn't add any more to the salad. But give it a taste and feel free to add more salt and fresh cracked pepper to suit your preference.
This recipe tastes great after sitting for a bit to meld the flavors but can also be served immediately. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 4, max 5 days before the tomatoes start to get weird.