I am always on the lookout for a good grain-based salad, bonus points if the grain is my favorite superfood, quinoa. This salad is super simple, very versatile and loaded with flavors. It’s so nutritionally packed it would make a perfect entrée on its own, or it’s beautiful as a side-dish. I served it on the side of our lentil burgers and we were very pleasantly full afterwards.
To be honest, it has been a while since I made a good quinoa salad, I kinda forgot how amazing and simple they are. A recent post on my friend Margaux and her Aunt Suzy’s blog about quinoa salads, inspired me to make one. I need to try their recipe next!
You could use regular quinoa or red, I just happened to have red on hand and it felt like a good time to use it. The fresh herbs were so perfect and the subtle hint of sweet from the currants was very pleasant and the tart, saltiness from the crumbled feta finished it all nicely. The lemon juice and zest brings a brightness that pairs nicely with everything else. This can be made vegan by simply skipping the feta when serving. You can serve it warm, room temperature or even cold. I plan to take the suggestion of 101 Cookbooks and make patties with the leftovers, I absolutely love quinoa patties. According to the adapted recipe on 101 cookbooks, they simply added a few eggs and some breadcrumbs to the leftovers and voila – quinoa patties!
The original recipe called for toasted sesame seeds, but I wanted something with a bit more bite, so I went with sunflower seeds, you could play around with all different kinds of nuts or seeds. Same goes for the currants, you could also try cranberries or raisins and as usual you could play around with your favorite herbs. I love how some dishes are so adaptable it’s almost like playing dress-up with all the ingredients. You could make it over and over and it would never be the same salad twice. Have fun.
Red Quinoa Salad with Currants, Dill, Zucchini and Sunflower Seeds
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks, who adapted it from Maria Speck’s Ancient Grains for Modern Meals
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3/4 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 cup organic red quinoa, well rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1/4 cup dried currants
2 sm-med zucchini, grated on box grater
4 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
optional: feta cheese, crumbled – as much or as little as you like
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add most of the green onions, a pinch of the salt, and cook until the onions soften, just a couple of minutes. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains dry out and toast a bit, roughly another 3 minutes. Add the water, the currants, the remaining salt; bring to a boil. Turn the heat to a medium-low and simmer, covered, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is just cooked through 15 minutes or so. Be mindful here, you don’t want to overcook the quinoa, and have it go to mush.
While the quinoa is cooking zest the lemon, and squeeze 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into a small bowl.
When the quinoa is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the zucchini, lemon juice and zest, most of the sunflower seeds, the mint and most of the dill. Taste and adjust for salt.
Serve topped with crumbled feta, and the remaining green onions, sunflower seeds and dill.