Quinoa Tabbouleh

The bit of crunch from the cucumbers and pine nuts combines with the flavorful fresh ingredients to make a wonderful salad or side dish. Definitely use fresh lemon juice and herbs — there is no substitute in this dish. The quinoa provides protein and a nice texture.

I don’t remember where I got this recipe, but it must have been while living in London because of the metric measurements. The equivalents are listed below.

Serves 4 as a main course salad; 6 as a side dish

250g (8 3/4 oz.) dried quinoa
3 red tomatoes, chopped
1 small cucumber, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Handful of pine nuts or roughly chopped walnuts
Bunch of mint, chopped
Bunch of parsley, chopped
Lots of salt and pepper
Sprinkling of cinnamon

Put quinoa in a pot with 500 ml (2 cups) water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.

Mix the quinoa with the rest of the ingredients, then place in the refrigerator. Serve cold.

Quinoa, Feta, and Pomegranate Salad

This is one of my favorite salads of all time. It’s easy, loaded with protein, and the texture is wonderful. Note that the quinoa and broccoli need to be cooked beforehand and left to cool; I tend to cook them the day before I make the salad just to make things easier when I put the ingredients together.

I got the recipe from a colleague in London in the summer of 2009.

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Serves 6

300g (10.5 oz.) quinoa
200g (7 oz.) tenderstem broccoli
200g (7 oz.) feta cheese
1 handful pumpkin seeds
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 large handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 large handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
4 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice

Cook the quinoa according to the package directions and leave to cool. Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces and lightly steam until tender.

Once the hot ingredients are cool, stir them together gently along with the feta, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, herbs, and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Quinoa Avocado Salad with Spinach

This salad turned out so well and was so delicious that I could imagine it being served in a restaurant. It’s easy to make and full of healthy goodness.

3/4 cup uncooked white quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
Bag of fresh spinach leaves
2 plum tomatoes
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 ripe avocados

In a small saucepan, combine quinoa and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Place quinoa in a medium bowl and place in refrigerator to cool.

Take a handful or two of spinach and shred it until you have about 1/2 cup. Finely chop the tomatoes and place with the spinach in a small bowl. Add the feta and mix.

In another small bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and whisk with a fork. Peel, halve, and pit the avocados, then slice them and set aside.

Prepare the plates by laying down a bed of spinach, then arrange the avocado slices in a sunshine pattern. Take the quinoa out of the refrigerator and add the spinach-tomato-feta mixture. Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil mixture once more and add to the quinoa, then divide quinoa mixture evenly among the plates.

Makes 4 servings. Keeps well for a next-day lunch.