Have you been looking for a salad that’s tasty, filling, great to look at and easy to make? Well, look no further than my Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Lemony Dijon Dressing. I love it because it utilises those store-cupboard essentials. What’s more, it’s the perfect dish to make when you’re asked to bring a plate. I’m serious, this beauty is a real crowd-pleaser.
During these warmer months I find myself attending many a backyard barbie. They’re a great way to catch up with friends and family while enjoying some much needed sunshine. But let’s not kid ourselves, the star of the backyard BBQ is always the meat. Salads or, for that matter, veggies of any kind are always an afterthought. Us vegetarians are often overlooked and if we’re not careful, are left with a bread roll and some iceberg lettuce for lunch.
With my Mediterranean Quinoa Salad I know I’ll have something tasting and nourishing to eat. Fresh, sweet, salty, and nutty, this salad has a great balance of flavours that’s loved by both veggies and carnivores alike. It’s also a great way to introduce quinoa to those who haven’t tried it before.
Quinoa is an ancient grain that’s naturally gluten free, incredibly versatile and super easy to prepare. You just put 1 cup of quinoa in a pot and cover it with 2 cups of cold tap water. Bring it to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and partially cover with a lid. Leave your quinoa to simmer this way until all the liquid has been absorbed. This normally takes around 10 – 15 minutes. Once all the liquid has been absorbed turn off the heat and clamp the lid on the pot. Leave it to sit like this for around 5 minutes to finish off.
To tie my Mediterranean Quinoa Salad together I make a Lemony Dijon Dressing. Tangy, creamy, and with a little added kick from the chilli flakes this dressing is a great one to have in your repertoire. Of course, if you’re not a fan of chilli or plan on giving this salad to children, it works just as well without.
The best way to get the most flavoursome bang for your buck is to make the dressing first in a small, clean glass jar. This gives all the different components time to really fuse together. It’s so much yummier this way.
Made too much dressing? Not a problem. Just keep any left-over dressing in the jar in which you made it, lid on tight and in the fridge. It will last in there for around 4 – 5 days and can be used on many other salad combinations. In fact, I made a variation of this dressing to go with my Roasted Sweet Potato Salad.
If you like to keep the crunch factor in your baby spinach and toasted pepitas, dress the salad without these components then add them in right before serving. But honestly, it’s delicious either way.
Okay people, the Holiday Season is upon us so I’m going to take a couple of weeks off to spend time with the fam. Thank you so much for coming on this journey with me. I appreciate your support more than you’ll ever know. I hope your holidays are filled with joy, inspiration, and of course, great food. 😉
I’ll meet you back here in 2018 for more super tasty eats and veggie ideas.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Lemony Dijon Dressing
For The Salad
1 cup of cooked quinoa (prepared as above)
1/4 cup pepitas (toasted)
200g bag of baby spinach (washed and torn into bite size pieces)
1 medium carrot (peeled and cut julienne)
1 medium Lebanese cucumber ( diced)
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (finely sliced)
1/4 cup black olives (pips removed and cut in half)
For The Dressing
1 tbs olive oil
the juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (depending how mustardy you like it)
1 small clove of garlic (minced)
a pinch of salt
a pinch of chilli flakes
- Start by making your dressing. Put all the dressing ingredients into a small, clean glass jar and mix together by firmly putting the lid on to the jar and giving it a really good shake. Set your dressing aside for later.
- Cook your quinoa as per the packet instructions, or follow my cooking guide above. One cup of uncooked quinoa makes around 2-3 cups of cooked. Simply take out your cup of cooked quinoa for this salad once it’s ready and put the rest in the fridge for another meal.
- To toast your pepitas, take a small frying pan and put it on the hob. Sprinkle the pepitas onto the dry pan (no oil please) and gently shake the pan around as it slowly heats up. As the pepitas become toasted they will give off a lovely nutty aroma and begin to brown slightly. How toasty you want them is up to you. Just make sure you keep an eye on them whilst they’re toasting. The pepitas can go from zero to burnt really quickly.
- Now prep all the other salad ingredients. Dice your cucumber, julienne your carrots, de-pip and chop your olives… you get the picture.
- Once they’re ready to go place all the veggies bar the spinach and pepitas into a large salad bowl. Pour the freshly cooked, warm quinoa on top of your veggies and drizzle the dressing over the top (I like to add the dressing to warm quinoa because I find it helps absorb the flavours better). Now mix it all together so the quinoa and the lovely, creamy, lemony dressing is distributed through the whole lot.
- Right before you’re ready to serve the salad add the spinach and pepitas and give it another mix. Enjoy!