This is one of those salads that feels heartier than just a salad.
And it is! Quinoa - which is actually a seed, rather than a grain - is one of the few plant-based sources of complete protein (along with chia, buckwheat, and hemp seeds). So you'll get a healthy dose of protein, carbohydrate, fiber, and healthy fat with this one. Plus, it's just really gorgeous and delicious, so there's that.
I needed a dish to bring to a brunch recently, and came up with the idea for a Moroccan-themed salad. I knew I wanted to use mint, since my mint plant is spreading across my garden box like a weed, which I love! (I feel like I've eventually killed every basil and cilantro I've ever planted. But the mint SURVIVES!)
The addition of almonds for crunch, and feta for that saltiness is great; but feel free to omit the cheese to make vegan. (I love the grass-fed Sheep's Milk Feta from Trader Joe's.) If pomegranates aren't available, try subbing in a dried fruit like cranberries or cherries, which I think would be lovely! (Be sure to check for added sugar or industrial crop/seed oils in the dried fruit if you use it, and avoid! Read more about why, here and here.)
This recipe makes a huge batch, so feel free to prep it and use for lunches or a side dish throughout the week, or you can easily cut the ingredients listed in half.
2 cups dry quinoa, rinsed under water for a few minutes + 4 cups filtered water
1 bunch chopped mint, or 1/2 cup packed tightly
seeds from one large pomegranate, or 1 cup
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 large cucumber, diced
4-5 green onions, sliced
6 oz feta cheese, or about 3/4 cup crumbles
For the dressing:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
- Make the quinoa: in a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water + 2 cups rinsed quinoa and a sprinkle of salt to a light boil. Turn down the heat to a very low simmer, cover and allow to cook about 15 minutes. (You can also do the whole batch in a rice cooker! Just keep it to 1 part quinoa, 2 parts water.) Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and allow to cool. I took this step the night before, and kept the quinoa in the fridge until the morning, when I made the salad.
- For the salad, simply crumble up the cooled quinoa, and toss in the cucumber, pomegranate seeds, crumbled feta, mint, onions, and almonds, and mix lightly.
- Mix up the dressing by adding lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper to a mason jar, cover and shake until blended. Sprinkle this over the quinoa salad to blend just before serving!