May 16, 2009

Creamy Feta Quinoa

Creamy Feta Quinoa

This is one of those lazy cooking recipes that is suited for spring or summer days, even though you could readily make this anytime of the year. Quinoa is quick-cooking grain and is packed full of good nutrients including calcium, protein, iron and fiber. The rest of the salad ingredients kick up the nutrition in this dish. Use whichever salad vegetables you have around that need to get used up.

For salad
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1-2 cups water
1/2 cucumber, quartered
1-2 cups mixed salad greens (spinach, mesclun, & arugula)
1 cup green or red cabbage, finely chopped to give consistency of shredded cabbage
1 tomato, diced.
1/2 cup black beans, drained
1/2 cup feta cheese
2 T parmesan cheese or other hard grated salty cheese

For dressing:
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, or 1 large clove, minced fine
1 spring onion (green onion), chopped fine or shallot if you have that instead
1 tsp oregano, or any dried or fresh herbs (if fresh 1 T)
1-2 tsp dijon mustard
pinch cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place quinoa in a bowl and cover with water to remove the saponins and then make the dressing so it has time to marinade while you prep the other items. The saponins are found on the outside of the quinoa and can be removed by rinsing. They aren't particularly harmful although the quinoa (I've never noticed) may taste bitter if you skip this step.
2. In a small mixing bowl, place lemon juice through salt and pepper, and mix well. Set aside.
3. Drain quinoa and place in a saucepan and cover with 1.5 cups water. Cook over medium heat and add more water if needed. The quinoa should take between 10-15 minutes to cook.
4. Prep and cut up vegetables. Place cabbage, mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, black beans and cheeses in a bowl. Check on quinoa. If it looks light and fluffy, it is done. Set aside the cooked quinoa and turn out into a bowl to cool. It doesn't have to be cold, just not steaming.
5. Gently, mix in the quinoa with the rest of the ingredients. The warmth of the fresh-cooked quinoa will melt the feta and parmesan cheese into a creamy coating.
6. Mix up the salad dressing before pouring into the feta-quinoa-salad mixture. Gently toss and mix everything together and turn out into salad bowls or plates to serve.

Stores nicely in the fridge (good weekday meals) although I think it tastes best when just mixed and served.

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