This salad is healthy, bright and refreshing and is a go to recipe for me in the summer. It is simple and easy to make and requires little cooking. The salad provides a good crunch from the cucumbers, onions and tomatoes, that pair perfectly with the soft quinoa and feta cheese. The dressing ties it all together with olive oil, lemon and herbs. I am sure this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad will make a dent in your saved recipes files.
The Mediterranean style eating pattern has received a great deal of press in health news over the past few years and for very good reasoning. This style of eating has been shown to be helpful in reducing rates of morbidity and mortality with cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.
The Mediterranean diet consists of a high intake of monounsaturated fats from olives, olive oil and good quantities of legumes, fruits, nuts, grains and fish. It has a lower amount of saturated fats and less processed meats and whole fat dairy products. It is thought that the nutritional qualities of these foods are what provide most benefits rather than a single component of this style of eating.
Quinoa is considered a whole grain, meaning is contains the whole grain kernel, the bran, germ and endosperm. This is where most of the nutrients and fiber are held making whole grains a beneficial addition to one’s food intake.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming 6 servings of grains per day with no more than half coming from refined grains. Refined grains are grains that have had their bran, germ and endosperm removed. This takes away their fiber and nutrient content. Some companies will add back some of the nutrients, however the fiber is usually lost. So try out quinoa in this salad to get one of your recommended whole grain servings for the day!
Meal Planning Tip: On my day off I usually prepare several whole grains that I can quickly turn into a meal or side dish for busy weeknights. Having the quinoa already cooked and ready to go, this salad can be made in as little as 15 minutes.
This salad is a great base for a main dish meal. Simply grill some chicken or shrimp and serve atop the salad for a fast weeknight meal.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Author: Brittany Sparks
Makes: 9 (1 cup) Servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Total Time: 25 min
1 Cup Quinoa, cooked according to package directions
2 Cups Mini Seedless Cucumbers, Chopped
1 ½ Cups Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
½ Cup Red Onion, Diced
½ Cup Black or Kalamata Olives, Chopped
4 oz Feta Cheese, Crumbled
1/3 Cup Fresh Basil, Chopped
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp White or Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tsp Dried Basil
1 Tsp Dried Oregano Leaves
½ Tsp Salt
½ Tsp Pepper
Cook the quinoa according to package directions and place in a large bowl.
Add the cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, olives, feta cheese and basil and stir to combine.
To make the dressing mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Pour over the quinoa mixture and stir to combine.
Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Serving Size (1 cup):
Calories 165, Total Fat 9.1 g, Monounsaturated Fat 4.7 g, Saturated Fat 2.7 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g, Sodium 301mg, Total Carbohydrate 16.2 g, Dietary Fiber 2.3 g, Protein 5 g, Potassium 243 mg, Phosphorous 146 mg, 92 mg Calcium, 409 IU Vitamin A, 1.5 mg Iron.