Spicy Quinoa, Cucumber & Tomato Salad

As we were going through our usual warm up at boot camp a few weeks ago, the conversation turned to (what else?) — food.  Healthy food, naturally.  I took the opportunity to throw myself aggressively into the warm up and keep my big mouth shut, as I don’t typically have anything constructive to contribute to these conversations. They tend to revolve around avoiding the very consumables that I happen to enjoy.  I was concentrating on my form and was in my own little world of perfect side lunges when someone said, “Let’s ask the food blogger!  Leah, do you happen to know a good recipe for homemade quinoa tortillas?” (A good recipe, like I have more than one up my sleeve).  Well.  I nearly laughed out loud and thought, I am being punked right here in the middle of Monday morning boot camp.  I resisted a snappy reply, and instead, put on my saddest face and said only “sorry, I sure don’t.” 

A couple of days later, I was in front of the carry-out counter at a local lunch spot and I decided to try their Mediterranean Salad – a mix of quinoa, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, Greek olives, feta cheese and a light dressing.  It was outstanding.  I was hooked.  I came home and tried to find a recipe online — I gave this one a go.  With the jalapeno, cilantro, and avocado, it is obviously leaning a little more to the Mexican than the Mediterranean – but it’s really quite delicious.  I’ll be making this one again, well before I attempt homemade tortillas.

Have a great week.

SOURCE:  nytimes.com; recipe by Martha R. Shulman

1 c. quinoa (Ancient Harvest Quinoa is on sale)
3 c. water
kosher salt
2 c. finely diced seeded English cucumber
1/2 c. finely diced red onion
2 c. finely diced tomatoes (Sapori Tomatoes are on sale)
1 to 2 jalapeno or Serrano peppers (to taste), seeded if desired and minced
1/2 c. chopped cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish if desired
1 to 2 T. fresh lime juice
1 T. sherry vinegar
3 T. extra virgin olive oil (Davinci or Sendik’s Brand are on sale)
1 avocado, sliced, for garnish

Place the quinoa in a bowl and cover with water.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Drain through a strainer, and rinse until the water runs clear.  Bring the 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add salt (1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon) and the quinoa.  Bring back to a boil, and reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and translucent; each grain should have a little thread.  Drain off the remaining water through a strainer; return the quinoa to the pan.  Cover the pan with a clean dish towel; replace the lid and allow to sit for 10 minutes.  Remove lid and towel and allow quinoa to cool.

Meanwhile, place the cucumber, red onion, pepper, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar, and olive oil in a large mixing bowl.  Season to taste with additional salt.  Add the quinoa and toss together; taste and adjust seasonings.  Garnish with sliced avocado and cilantro sprigs and serve.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous, News | April 2nd, 2013