(Update 5/11/13: This weekend I tweaked this recipe a bit – just upped the quinoa and added a cooking tip.  I also tried it sprinkled with roasted sunflower seeds – it was a really good addition!)

Do you love quinoa?  Not so much?  Whatever the case, I dare to say you would love this salad.  Love!  And if you’ve never tried quinoa, this dish is a warm welcome into the world of this super psuedo-grain…pseudo because nutritionally, it resembles a grain, but it is actually a seed.   And super because it is a complete protein, nutrient dense, low glycemic, gluten free and alkalinizing.  Imagine if we all plopped down with a big bowl of this at the end of the day!

I just served this salad to a group of friends with widely differing palates.  I was actually a little nervous.  But it was a smash success.  With everyone!  “I can’t get wait to get this recipe!”  “Can you, like, buy this somewhere?”

Quinoa cooks up a lot like rice, but faster.  Sautee it in a bit of olive oil or butter before adding the water (the trick for consistently good texture) and, if you’re making a salad, balance the flavors well.  Bright lemons, aromatic cumin and oregano, a good olive oil…  Then you will bring out the best in this amazing food.

Summertime Quinoa Salad

a generous 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3T red wine vinegar
2T fresh lemon juice
1t oregano
1t cumin
1t salt (omit or use less if your broth is not low-sodium)
pepper, ten grinds

1.5 cups quinoa (rinsed, unless package indicates it’s not necessary)
3 cups water or broth (to cook the quinoa)
2 green onions, diced
1 cup yellow pepper, diced
1.5 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1.5 cups cucumbers, quartered and chopped (I used Persian)
1 cup cheese, diced small (omit for dairy free, I use Mozarella in block form)

1) Stirring constantly, sautee the uncooked quinoa over medium heat in a little olive oil before adding the water.  After 2-3 minutes, add 3 cups of water, cover and simmer til done (according to package timing.)  Fluff the quinoa and allow it to cool a bit.

2) Whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Toss the dressing with the first three salad ingredients (quinoa, onions, peppers.)  Then gently mix in remaining ingredients (tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese).