Quinoa stars in summer veggie salad

Just back from a trip to Chile, where I was introduced to several delicious quinoa salads. It was a surprise to learn there are hundreds of different types of quinoas. The most common ones are white, red and black. With these flavors in mind, I created a quick vegetarian salad for a summer dinner.

Quinoa is an ancient grain originating in the mountains of Bolivia, Chile and Peru. It’s also considered a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids.

Quinoa needs to cook for about 15 minutes. Start it cooking first or, to shorten time, buy frozen quinoa. It takes only 5 minutes to cook.

Helpful Hints

— You can use plain or multicolored quinoa.

Countdown

— Place quinoa on to cook.

— Prepare remaining ingredients.

Shopping List

To buy: 1 package quinoa (multi color if available), 1 bottle dried oregano, 1 bottle reduced-fat oil and vinegar dressing, 1 bottle honey, 1 cucumber, 1 large red bell pepper, 1 container cherry tomatoes, 1 container pitted black olives, 1 bag spinach and 1 can reduced-sodium chickpeas.

Staples: salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Quinoa Salad

3/4 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 cup reduced-fat oil and vinegar dressing

1 tablespoon honey

1 cup cucumber cubes, about 1/2 inch

1 cup red bell pepper cubes, about 1/2 inch

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 cup pitted black olives

1 cup fresh spinach leaves

1 cup canned reduced-sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place quinoa in a sieve or colander with small holes. Rinse under cold water. Add quinoa, 2 cups water and oregano to a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes. Fluff up with a fork. Add the salad dressing and honey to a large bowl and mix together. Add the cooked quinoa and mix with the dressing. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss well.

Yield 2 servings.

Per serving: 515 calories (25 percent from fat), 14.2 g fat (1.5 g saturated, 5.4 g monounsaturated), 4 mg cholesterol, 17.9 g protein, 83.2 g carbohydrates, 14.2 g fiber, 413 mg sodium.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of over 30 cookbooks, including her newest, “The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook.” Listen to Linda on www.WDNA.org and all major podcast sites. Email her at [email protected]

Salads