Long gone are the days of thinking salad is boring and consists mainly of lettuce. The variations and combinations are countless – some are based on greens, some are based on tomatoes, and more substantial versions are based on grains or pasta. Unfortunately, there is a huge misconception that all salads are healthy… in essence, they can be, until you drench them in creamy salad dressings. A lot of restaurant’s salads contain more calories and fat than a main course (entrée).
I’m fortunate enough to enjoy salads without the creamy dressings. I simply love salads that are served with freshly squeezed lemon juice, or with a smidgen of lemon juice and olive oil dressing… herbs also go a long way.
Greek salad is J’s favorite salad – especially when it’s rustic, with large chunks of feta cheese, pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, really good olives, thinly sliced onions and very little lettuce. I was feeling like a change, so I combined the idea of a Greek salad together with quinoa, with a few extras including artichokes, avocados and toasted walnuts*. The result is delicious – it’s light, packed full of flavor and texture, and simply moreish. We enjoyed it for dinner as a main dish, however, if you prefer, you can serve it as a side salad at summer barbecues, or whenever you fancy.
* I was going to use pine nuts, but with the current situation on pine nuts (re: pine mouth or pine nut syndrome), I thought I wouldn’t risk the chance of ruining my taste buds for a few nuts… I enjoy food too much for that.
GREEK-INSPIRED QUINOA SALAD
Serves 4-6 (or 2, if you’re greedy like us)
- 100 g (½ c) quinoa, cooked and cooled
- 1 medium green pepper, cut into chunks
- 3 spring onions (scallions/green onions), finely sliced
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
- 40 g (1.5 oz, 4 tablespoons) pitted and halved oil-cured black olives
- 450 g (16 oz) baby plum (grape) tomatoes
- 225 g (8 oz) quartered artichoke hearts** (about 1 (400 g, 13.75 oz) can, rinsed and drained)
- 3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
- 3 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander (cilantro)
- ½ tablespoon dried oregano, crushed
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, or to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons garlic flakes, or to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 ripe medium-large avocado, cut into chunks
- 70 g (2.5 oz, 7 tablespoons) crumbled feta cheese
- 1 small handful toasted walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)
** Try marinated grilled artichokes for extra flavor, if you can find them.
Variations: Try adding a few beans (or chicken, if you’re not vegetarian) for additional protein.
1. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, green pepper, spring onions (scallions/green onions), red onion, olives, tomatoes, artichokes, parsley, coriander (cilantro), oregano, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic flakes and season to taste.
2. Add avocado and feta cheese, toss gently and serve garnished with toasted walnuts. Enjoy!