Mediterranean quinoa salad
You know those amazing meals that miraculously come together when you're super hungry and there's nothing to eat in the house? This simple Mediterranean quinoa salad is actually the product of one of those very situations.
It was a Saturday afternoon a few weekends ago and I had been out drinking coffee with a friend at one of our favourite spots in Bermondsey. I got home a little later than anticipated and needed to catch a train to Birmingham around 4 pm later that day. Starving, I opened the fridge and there was literally nothing in there except some leftover quinoa, half a cucumber, a half-eaten jar of Spanish caper berries and a little bit of feta cheese (along with the usual refrigerator condiments, of course).
Though I do love all of these ingredients independently, the thought of combining them just seemed kind of weird to me at the time. But desperate times call for desperate measures, so I decided to just go for it. First I added some olive oil, raw cider vinegar, loads of dried oregano and salt and pepper to the cooked quinoa. Then I chopped up some caper berries and cucumber and threw those in, along with some crumbled feta cheese. To finish off the salad I added a few dashes of Tabasco, because I love my food on the spicy side, and some toasted chopped hazelnuts for some crunch and protein.
Then I sat down to eat my lunch with the lowest of expectations. Surprise, surprise, this salad was good. Like, real good. So good that I've been making it for lunch at the office on a semi-regular basis. I love this kind of simple salad, because it keeps well in the fridge and takes no time to throw together if you have leftover grains to hand. It's also very light yet satisfying - just my kind of salad! So, without further ado, here's the recipe - I hope you enjoy as much as I do!
Mediterranean quinoa salad
The best things sometimes come together with little planning - which was certainly the case for this Mediterranean-inspired quinoa salad. My recipe calls for cooked quinoa, but I imagine that any grain would work well - brown and wild rice, millet, buckwheat - whatever you have to hand. Adjust the quantity of olive oil and vinegar to your liking, and be bold with the oregano!
- 3 1/2 cups cooked quinoa*, room temperature or cold
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp raw cider vinegar
- 5-6 dashes Tabasco sauce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup/100g feta cheese, crumbled
- 10-15 caper berries, stemmed and chopped
- 1/8 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts
*To cook the quinoa, place 2 cups rinsed quinoa and 3 cups water in a medium saucepan with a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 25 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. This will yield a bit more quinoa than needed for the recipe - the rest can be stored in the fridge or freezer.
In a large salad bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, olive oil, cider vinegar, Tabasco and oregano. Toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper. Add the cucumber, feta cheese, caper berries and hazelnuts, and toss to combine. Taste and adjust with more cider vinegar or Tabasco, if desired.