Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Apples & Almonds

UPDATED 2011-06-22:

I just made this quinoa salad for a reunion dinner tonight.

quinoa salad with tomatoes, feta, apples and almonds

Quinoa is a very small grain, actually it’s technically not even a grain, it’s a seed, but it’s always lumped into the hearty whole grain category. It’s gluten free and fairly quick to make. It smells earthy when cooking.

uncooked quinoa seeds

I found excellent cooking instructions for quinoa in the Lorna Sass book “Whole Grains Every Day Every Way“. Cook quinoa similar to how you cook pasta: use a large portion of boiling water and then drain.

Quinoa is very tiny, so draining can be troublesome. The first time I cooked it, I used one of those metal sifter/strainers, which was fine for rinsing the quinoa, but once it was cooked, the amount had doubled/tripled in size, so I had to drain in batches.

I found a terrific suggestion to use a large splatter screen to drain quinoa while reading reviews on Amazon for for a larger strainer. I saved $$ by not having to purchase a new strainer and learned a valuable technique!

rinsing quinoa using fine-mesh spatter guard

Cooking Quinoa

update: I don’t bother with the method I’ve outlined below. Now I just cook quinoa using the 1:1.5 ratio. 1 cup dry quinoa to 1.5 cups water. It can be cooked on the stove (low heat), but I like cooking in the oven at about 275-300F. It takes about 15-20 minutes, and then I remove from heat, and let sit covered for 5-10 minutes so it steams.

You can precook the quinoa the same morning or the day before. It will keep in the refrigerator until you need it for the salad. Supposedly the quinoa keeps for up to 5 days in a tightly sealed container. It does not freeze well.

  • 4 quart sauce pan
  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 2.5 cups water
  1. No need to soak quinoa overnight, but you do need to rinse thoroughly. Use any kind of fine-mesh strainer. If you keep a white bowl underneath the strainer to catch the water, you will be able to see if the water is cloudy after rinsing. When the rinsed water is clear, you’re done. Most quinoa is fairly clean, but there can be a bitter residue.
  2. Boil water in 4 qt saucepan, and add the quinoa.
  3. Boil on medium high for 11 to 14 minutes. You can tell when it’s done or close to done when the little white rings release from the quinoa seeds.
  4. Drain very well. This is where a large splatter guard comes in handy. Pour the quinoa out of the pan, allowing to initially drain in the sink; then move the strainer over a large bowl to drain completely and cool. Gently rotate the quinoa with a fork or spoon.

drained cooked quinoa

Quinoa COOKING NOTES:

  1. Do not add salt until after cooking I have no problem adding salt while cooking now.
  2. Avoid stirring while cooking, as it will increase stickiness
  3. After rinsing and draining, the quinoa can stick to the fine-mesh. Use a rubber spatula to spoon the quinoa out of the strainer and into the boiling water or salad bowl.
  4. One cup of uncooked quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked.

Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Apples & Almonds

Serves at least 4 – 8 depending on if it’s a side dish or meal.

Ingredients:

  • Cooked quinoa (recipe above)
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil (or almond, walnut oil)
  • 2 – 3 diced celery stalks
  • 1/4 – 1/2 diced sweet onion
  • Pint of grape tomatoes – halved or quartered depending on size.
  • Bunch of basil leaves – chopped or chiffonaded
  • Bunch of spinach leaves – chopped or chiffonaded
  • Peas – shucked or chopped in pod
  • One finely diced garlic scape
  • One diced apple (doesn’t have to be peeled)
  • 3 oz Crumbled feta cheese
  • 1- 2 oz Rough chopped almonds
  • 1 lemon – zest and juice
  • 1-2 Tbsp Apple Cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large salad bowl, add all ingredients and stir. Taste to make sure everything comes together.
Enjoy!

Alternatives:

Instead of quinoa, try wheat berries, barley, couscous
Fruit: dried cranberries, blueberries, chopped strawberries
Nuts: walnuts, pecans, any kind of nut or mixture.
Veggies: arugula, lettuce, baby lettuce leaves, cucumber, raw zucchini
Herbs: Mint is a great alternative
To make it heartier, you could even throw in some shredded chicken breast

quinoa salad with tomatoes, feta, apples & almonds

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