Since our annual fruit run on the Fresno Fruit Trail, I’ve been super excited about fresh produce. I dream of summer fruits + veggies all year round, but I seem to forget how wonderful the fresh produce really is. Year after year, it’s always this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad that reminds me!
In my first year of grad school, a friend made his Israeli salad with cucumber, bell pepper, onion, and cilantro. I’m a sucker for each of those ingredients, especially the cilantro.
I immediately fell in love with it (along with the rest of our friends) and made the salad countless times over the next two years.
And then I don’t know what happened (I’ll blame grad school because I still can), but I stopped making it. Heading to a potluck BBQ for a friend’s birthday this past weekend, I decided to resurrect this delicious Mediterranean salad recipe and add some quinoa for protein.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
This Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is the perfect summery dish because the flavors are so bright and light, but it’s also really filling. It was a hit at the BBQ and we had it as a side with dinner last night.
I have every intention of making this for a lunch too. The recipe below is for a salad big enough to share, but you can always make a single serving.
Making Perfect Quinoa
Quinoa is one of those seemingly fancy things that surprisingly easy to make. It’s especially easy if you make quinoa in your rice cooker!
Quinoa is like most other grains in that on its own, it’s quite bland, but with just a bit of seasoning or good olive oil, it becomes quickly delicious. And, obviously, adding more tasty ingredients ensure you’ll love quinoa.
Hot House Cucumbers vs. English Cucumbers
I never really understood the difference between the two main kinds of cucumbers. Now that I do, however, it’s no competition.
The skin on hot house cucumbers is a lot thicker, a lot chewier, and a lot more work. I also think they don’t have as much flavor.
English cucumbers, however, have a thin, delicious skin that you will happily eat. They come in long versions (about 12″), but they also come in mini sizes. Persian cucumbers are also a small, delicious cucumber option.
Easy Mediterranean Salad
Just behind how delicious this Mediterranean quinoa salad is just how easy it is. Once you have the quinoa made – which can be done a day ahead of time even – you just chop and mix.
For this recipe I used english cucumbers, red bell peppers, a red onion, and fresh cilantro. Chop all the veggies into small bite sized pieces (really you want to be able to get more than one veggie in each forkful – so chop accordingly!
After you mix the veggies and quinoa, add the olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. You can use any extra virgin olive oil you want, but I’d encourage you to make it a good one. Lately I’ve been using Lucini and Cobram Estate.
We don’t think about the flavor of olive oil much, but once you start using nicer oils to “finish” dishes (i.e. not cook the oil), you’ll really start to understand just how delicious a good olive oil is!
MEDITERRANEAN QUINOA SALAD
A friend in grad school introduced me to the simple salad recipe (sans quinoa) and I think they will forever be a summer go-to for potlucks and bbqs. I love the added quinoa for protein, but you make it with or without!
- 1 Cup chopped red onion
- 1 1/2 Cucumbers diced (approx. 4 Cups)
- 2 red bell peppers approx. 2-3 Cups
- 1 Cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 Cups cooked quinoa recipe here
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 1/4 Cup fresh lime juice approx. 1 1/2 limes
- Mix everything together.
- For best flavor, refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Taste and season with salt & pepper if more is needed.