Mediterranean Quinoa

Photo by Lena Robertson

Photo by Lena Robertson

Quinoa is such a delicious and quick grain to make. It can be eaten plain, or mixed with vegetables, fruits, meat, cheese, dressings, or a combination of the above. Cooking quinoa takes about 15 minutes and while you are waiting for it to cook you can cut up the vegetables and prepare the other items you wish to add to it. Some of my favorite food items to add to quinoa are onions of all types, garlic, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, bell peppers, cilantro, parsley, olives, lemon or lime juice, feta cheese, garbanzo beans, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. I never really measure things out when I make this, I just start cutting vegetables and adding them in depending on what I have in the fridge. However, I am careful about how much garlic, onions, lemon or lime, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper I add because too little would make it bland and too much would be overwhelming. So, try different combinations out for yourself and see how you like it! If you don’t like something, try doing it differently the next time. My hope is that over time you get comfortable with making food that is not bound by a recipe. Recipes can be helpful for certain things, but for many dishes there is no need to measure things out exactly. They can just take shape on their own with you as the creator. So get busy creating and make sure you are getting those delicious vegetables in for fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

If you are dairy free then skip the cheese. If you don’t like garbanzo beans, just add the vegetables. If you don’t like a specific vegetable, try substituting with a different one.

One thing to know about cooking quinoa: For every cup of dried quinoa you add to the pot, just double the amount of water you add (1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water).

To make the recipe like I did in the picture: Makes about 6-8 servings (I made a lot so you can half the recipe for less)

Ingredients:

2 cup quinoa (I used a mix of white and red quinoa but you can use any kind)

4 cups water

1/2 of a red onion

2 green onions

1 clove garlic

1 lemon

1/2 an English cucumber

4 celery sticks

1 red bell pepper (green, yellow, or orange may also be used)

1/2 cup Italian parsley

1/2 cup cilantro

15 olives (I used Kalamata olives, but any olives will work)

2 cups Feta cheese

2 cups garbanzo beans (or one 15 oz can)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

Preparation:

To cook the quinoa: Combine the quinoa and water in a pot and put a lid on the pot. Place the pot on the stove and cook on medium heat until the water boils. When the water starts to boil, turn down the heat to low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes or until the quinoa is light and fluffy with no visible water left. When it is done, remove the lid and take the pot off the burner to let the quinoa cool down. While the quinoa is cooking you can work on cutting up the other ingredients.

To prepare the rest of the ingredients: Wash all the vegetables, cut them, and combine together in a large bowl. Cut the red onions into little cubes. Thinly slice the green onions. Cut the garlic into small pieces or use a garlic press. Cut the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, and celery into cubes. Thinly cut the parsley and cilantro. Squeeze the lemon and add the juice to the cut vegetables. Cube the Feta cheese and add to the bowl with vegetables. Cut the olives in half and add to the bowl as well. Add the garbanzo beans, olive oil, salt, and pepper then mix all the ingredients together. Lastly, spoon the cooked quinoa into the bowl with vegetables and mix until well combined. Serve immediately or put in the fridge to cool and serve later.

Notes: I used canned garbanzo beans for this recipe, but you can cook the garbanzo beans yourself as well. This will take more time so plan ahead. I will add a recipe for cooking garbanzo beans in a later blog post. I would have also liked to add apple cider vinegar to the recipe but I did not have any in stock when I made this. You can add some yourself to taste or add other salad dressing if you feel it needs more. For added vegetables I often serve this dish on a plate of salad greens but it is good on its own as well. This can be a meal all on its own since there is a grain, protein, healthy fat, and vegetables.