Mediterranean Salad with Quinoa

When I was asked to participate in this month’s Side Car Series over at Kitchen Play, I had no idea who the sponsor was going to be. Imagine my excitement when I discovered the sponsor was the International Olive Council (IOC) with their campaign, Add Some Life. You see, I LOVE olive oil. I use it almost daily. It’s delicious.

I’m sure you’ve also heard it’s pretty healthy. So are olives. One of my most favorite cuisines is Mediterranean food. It’s so fresh and flavorful. The Mediterranean diet in general and olives and olive oil in particular have many anti-inflammatory properties. For example, increased olive oil consumption has been linked to a decreased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation and pain, particularly in the joints. Have you ever known someone to suffer from RA? It’s terrible. Who knew olives and olive oil could help?

So April’s Side Car theme is “Build a Better Salad.”

Salads can be pretty boring. And when they’re just iceberg lettuce slathered in ranch dressing, they don’t even qualify as health food anymore. Olive oil salad dressings are much more heart-healthy. Last year I took a nutrition class for culinary school, and I remember learning that some nutrients actually need fat to be absorbed by your body. With all the silly anti-fat verbiage seared into our brains, I’m guessing a lot of people don’t realize this. So what have we learned here? Olive oil on your salad is tasty and healthy. Win-win! And olives add a little briny, salty bite that makes you want more. Oh, and in this particular recipe I’m sharing today the quinoa is also a nutritional powerhouse. Your family will love this salad without even realizing how good it is for them.

By the way, be sure to check out Add Some Life on twitter and facebook because don’t we all love olive oil and recipes?

*Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Add Some Life as part of the Kitchen Play Sidecar series. All opinions given are my own. Some information about olive oil and olives was provided by the Add Some Life.

Recipe Rundown
Taste: The fruitiness and freshness from the veggies and olive oil is balanced out by the slight sourness and saltiness from the olives, vinegar, and feta and the nuttiness from the quinoa.
Texture: The quinoa has a unique fluffy yet chewy texture that perfectly complements the crunchy, juiciness of the salad.
Ease: Super easy!
Appearance: I just love the bright complimentary colors of this salad.
Pros: Fresh, easy, healthy, tasty.
Cons: None!
Would I make this again? Yes! This is a great lunch or side salad to go with dinner.


Mediterranean Salad with Quinoa

Yield: 4-6 servings


For the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the salad:
1/2 cup dry quinoa
Pinch kosher salt
1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 small ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into half moons
1/4 cup pitted black olives, such as Kalamata, halved
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


For the vinaigrette:
In a small bowl whisk all ingredients until thoroughly combined and smooth. Set aside while preparing salad.

For the salad:
Thoroughly rinse the dry quinoa in a fine strainer under running water. Place rinsed quinoa in a small saucepan with a pinch of salt and cover with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Fluff with a fork and let cool. Quinoa can be cooked ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

In a large bowl combine the lettuce, pepper, tomato, cucumber, olives, feta cheese, and basil. Toss with quinoa.

Just before serving, whisk the vinaigrette to reincorporate the ingredients then drizzle just enough over salad to moisten. Extra vinaigrette can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature and whisk ingredients back together before using.

Recipe by Tessa of Handle the Heat

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9 Responses to “Mediterranean Salad with Quinoa”

  1. #
    Farmgirl Gourmet — April 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Great post!!! I love this salad. Glad to have found you via KitchenPLAY.

  2. #
    Ricki — April 17, 2012 at 2:50 am

    This is SO much my kind of salad! I love the ingredient mix and the flavors in the dressing. And I can easily adapt it to my dietary restrictions–yay! :)

  3. #
    Gloria — April 20, 2012 at 3:53 am

    Quinoa has been making regular appearences in our kitchen. This salad sounds like a perfect make ahead for lunch. Thanks for sharing.

  4. #
    Miss — April 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Gorgeous salad and I am loving quinoa especially with olives!

  5. #
    Lori S. — April 22, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I made this a few day ago and it was extremely delicious. My husband dubbed it a keeper for sure. Thanks!!

    • handleheat replied: — April 22nd, 2012 @ 9:46 pm

      Yay! I'm thrilled to hear that :)

  6. #
    Betty — May 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Have you read Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller? A must if you love olive oil…at the least check out his website Awesome buying guide for olive oil and overall a very informative book/blog.

  7. #
    Pat — April 29, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Try toasting the quinoa before rinsing. Rinse well then add to a pot of boiling water. Cook for 9 minutes and drain. You will be impressed at how crunchy the quinoa remains. It lasts longer in the fridge too.
    I can’t wait to try this wonderful recipe. I Love quinoa!


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