Sometimes the only inspiration you need for a great recipe is an insatiable love of a few key ingredients. For me, those are olives and cheese. A few weeks ago I found myself planning for a dinner party. Vegetarians, kids and gluten-free friends were all on the guest list, so I came up with a recipe to please all palates. INTRODUCING: Kalamata Green Bean Dill Lemon Vinaigrette Cherry Tomato Feta Quinoa Salad! For ease we'll just call it Kalamata Quinoa Salad. This recipe makes a lot, which is great if you want leftovers or are serving it as a side for 10-15 people.
Here's what you'll need for the salad:
- 3 cups rinsed quinoa (I use tri-color for prettiness)
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or water - you'll use this to cook the quinoa)
- 1 cup Kalamata olives (save 2-3 tablespoons brine for the dressing)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 cup green beans (I use tri-color for prettiness)
- 1/2 cup Feta cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
Here's what you'll need for the dressing:
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons Kalamata brine
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Start the quinoa according to package directions. I like to cook my quinoa in chicken broth for added flavor, but you can also use veggie broth or water if you're cooking for vegetarians. While the quinoa cooks, start making the dressing.
Mince one clove garlic and throw it in a big ol' bowl. Go ahead and dump all the other dressing ingredients in there with it - starting with two tablespoons Kalamata brine and add more to taste after all other ingredients are incorporated. Here's what it should look like:
Let the dressing sit while you chop the green onion and slice the tomatoes so the dressing flavors can develop.
When the quinoa is cooked, throw it in a strainer and rinse for a while with cold water (you want it to cool to room temperature or even chillier). Let it sit in the strainer for about five minutes so the extra water drips off. Now toss the quinoa in the dressing. Add sliced tomatoes, olives, and green beans and stir all ingredients together. Add green onion and feta last - it's up to you if you'd like to leave these on top (which looks a little better), or fold them into the salad. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate at least one hour before serving (or throw it in the freezer for 20 minutes, stirring after 10). When you're all done it should look something like this:
Extras will keep in the fridge for a few days. I brought this hearty salad to work for lunch a few days the following week and it was still excellent. Enjoy!