If you can boil water, you can made this traditional Middle Eastern grain and vegetable salad. This version is updated by using high protein quinoa instead of bulghur wheat (so it’s gluten-free). It’s great for picnics, potlucks and camping.
1 cup water with 1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup white and/or red quinoa
2 medium cucumbers, peeled if waxed/bitter and seeds removed, diced small
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (to taste)
4-5 sprigs fresh spearmint (or Substitute 1 teaspoon of dried mint)
3-4 Tablespoons lemon juice (I use organic bottled lemon juice)
2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups finely chopped parsley leaves (remove large stems)
1/4 cup chopped chives or tops of green onions
6 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
OPTIONAL: pinch of cayenne pepper; one cup cooked and well-drained chickpeas
Bring water to boil with one teaspoon of salt. Add quinoa to pot, stir, and cover. Reduce heat and simmer until grain is just cooked, 12-14 minutes. Remove from pot and spread grain out in large bowl to cool.
While grain is cooking, prep cucumbers and toss with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Place in colander to drain for at least 30 minutes to remove excess fluid.
To make dressing, combine finely chopped garlic, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice and cayenne (if using). You can put all ingredients (unchopped) in a food processor or blender OR chop & whisk by hand.
In a large bowl, using a rubber spatula, combine quinoa, chopped parsley and chives, drained cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas (if using) and dressing. Allow to rest five minutes, then taste for seasoning. Add more salt, cumin, lemon, etc. as desired.
Yield about six cups, 4-6 servings. Store in covered container in refrigerator up to five days. Best flavor if you rest at room temperature for 30 minutes just before serving.
By Nancy Maurelli