Quick and Easy Quinoa and Feta Summer Salad

August 29, 2016
Quick and Easy Quinoa and Feta Vegetarian Summer Salad

Thanks for checking out my first nutrition/recipe post! This quinoa and feta summer salad is delicious!

Before we get to the recipe let me tell you a little bit about where I find my recipes and how I choose them. Pinterest is a total game changer. If you don’t have an account you are seriously missing out. I get 99.9% of my recipes from there. I would never be able to keep up with all of the wonderful blogs that are putting out great recipes on my own. But, thanks to Pinterest, I don’t have to – they’re all right there, waiting on me to choose my favorite ones and save them to one of my boards, where they hang out until I’m ready to try them. Why re-invent the wheel when all these great people are constantly giving out amazing recipes?

I generally try to stick to pinning recipes that primarily consist of whole ingredients, and usually the less total ingredients (and shorter the directions) the better. But it’s not always quick and easy to know the ingredients and directions when you see a beautiful pin so if you’re looking through my boards and find some things that don’t fit the above description, you probably beat me to actually trying to make it.

So, most of the recipes I will post on here will come from other, very talented, recipe creators but I’ll always let you know who came up with them!

I know everyone in the States is counting down to September and most are in full fall prep mode, but it’s definitely still summer here in Kuwait, so if you need one last summer recipe, this one’s for you!

Quinoa and Feta Summer Salad    From Foodnessgracious.com

I love quinoa. As someone who follows a plant based diet, quinoa is an essential part of my diet. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein
  • Versatility – you can make it with water, broth or stock and put just about anything you want in it and it’s going to be amazing
  • Easy to make – just follow a 1:2 quinoa to liquid ratio, 20 minutes on the stove and you’re good to go
  • Great hot or cold
  • Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – just choose your flavors accordingly
  • Easy to freeze
  • It’s actually a seed (less of a reason I love it, more of a fun fact)
  • It’s high in protein and low in fat

You have the option, depending on what’s available in your area, of buying regular or pre-rinsed quinoa. If you buy the regular you’ll notice that the first direction is to rinse it. Most recipes tell you to do the same. But these tiny, delicious, seeds are so small that you need a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to keep them from disappearing down into the big black hole, otherwise known as a drain.

The reason for this direction is to remove the natural coating called saponin. According to legend, saponin can cause the quinoa to taste bitter or soapy. The problem that I’ve run into while attempting to rinse these little suckers is that I don’t always have cheesecloth or a tiny little strainer. Also, I usually make a lot at one time and several batches through the strainer is a big ole pain in the butt, believe me. Not to mention that it inevitably ends up all over the counter and floor so, not only do you have a big mess to clean up, but the precious quinoa seeds have been wasted. And that’s just no good.

So here’s my secret. I don’t rinse my quinoa. There. I said it. And I have yet to notice any difference in the taste. Only a glorious extra 20 minutes shaved off of my prep time. Granted, the fact that I don’t notice any difference in the taste could only be a testament to my very unrefined palate but if it saves me 20 minutes (on each of the million times I make quinoa), I’ll forgo the sophistication of my taste buds and probably add years to my life.

A lot of recipes and directions act as if it’s a mortal sin not to rinse quinoa first, so blatantly skipping this step sometimes satisfies my need to be defiant –  but it just depends on the day.

On to the recipe. Kyle requested a cold quinoa salad for lunch this week, so I found this quick and easy one for Quinoa and Feta Summer Salad. Many thanks to Foodnessgracious for posting it!

Full Recipe with Directions 

I always double my recipes so we can have them for a few more days. If something comes up and you end up without time to cook, it’s always better to have something ready to go so you don’t have to resort to picking up food somewhere.

quinoa, feta, summer, salad, healthy

Quick and easy quinoa feta summer salad

So, here are the ingredients I used for this recipe:
  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa + 4 cups water (any broth can be used for a little more flavor)
  • 28 oz (2 cans – actually ours come in little tetrapacks in Kuwait) Garbanzo beans/chickpeas
  • 4 peppers that I roasted at home (2 red, one yellow, one green)
  • One onion
  • 1 cup Feta Cheese

For the Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp Lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

And here are the changes I made to the directions:

Over the years, I’ve discovered that I prefer to mix the dressing into the quinoa while it’s still warm so it can really soak in. So I mix up the dressing while the quinoa is cooking.

Quinoa, feta, summer, salad, healthy

All done and mixed with dressing!

I also halved the Feta. This helps to reduce the overall calories, fat, and sodium and I prefer this amount. I also reduced the salt to just a dash. Generally speaking, I don’t use salt when I cook, and you’re also getting a lot of sodium from the feta. Nothing ruins a dish faster for me than it being too salty. I reduced the olive oil from 2/3 cup to just 1/2 cup for the dressing and added a bit more red wine vinegar and lemon juice.

I omitted the cilantro only because it wasn’t available at the particular store Kyle happened to go to.

I am sure using a jar of roasted peppers will work beautifully in this recipe, but here’s what happened. Yesterday, I sprained my ankle. And it’s pretty ugly. And if you’ll remember from my last post, we don’t have a car here yet. There’s also no Uber, just in case you were wondering. So that left Kyle to make the trek to the store all alone. And I thought that the whole peppers would be easier for him to find in the store and a little lighter to carry. Plus I have the time to roast them, so that’s what I did.

Also, the blender/food processor didn’t make the trip with us and I have yet to replace it here, so I mixed the dressing with a wisk : )

Now for the fun part!

Here’s the nutrition breakdown: 

The original recipe from foodnessgracious.com provides: 545 kcals, 17 gm protein, 50 gm cabs, 31 gm fat

With the changes that I made to the recipe (see above), it provides: 440 calories, 16 gm protein, 50 gm carbs, 21 gm fat

So that’s it! Let me know what you think and if you try either of the recipes above. Quinoa is so versatile so feel free to change any ingredients that you don’t like or just don’t have lying around. Get creative!

Thanks for joining me today and if you haven’t tried quinoa before, I hope this gives you some inspiration!

Sheli

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2 Comments

  • Reply Vicki Msall August 30, 2016 at 6:28 am

    Sounds delish! I’m going to try it this week!

    • Reply shelimsall@gmail.com August 30, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Let me know how it goes!

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