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How about a Monday escape to the Greek Isles? 

Imagine yourself sitting in a lounge chair, overlooking the breathtaking Mediterranean Sea, sipping a Greek mojito or ice-cold tea.  Watching the sun rise or set (whichever you prefer) as the warm breeze sweeps across your face.  Ahhh, serene relaxation.

Okay, I confess. I’ve never been to the Greek Isles, or Greece for that matter, but that’s how I’d imagine it from the pictures.  My salad may not create the exact experience, but it does have all the fresh flavors of the Mediterranean.  Warm quinoa is mixed with a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, seasonal vegetables like crunchy cucumbers and salty kalamata olives.  A mouth-watering main dish or a stay fit, full flavor side for a potluck meal.

Try it topped with grilled shrimp, salmon or chicken.  Also, a gluten-free and vegetarian option.  Fantastic when paired with warm pita chips and roasted red pepper hummus.

GREEK ISLES QUINOA SALAD

serves 10

Quinoa:

  • 1 cup WHOLE GRAIN QUINOA
  • 1 3/4 cup WATER or LOW SODIUM CHICKEN BROTH
  • 1/4 tsp SALT, SEA

Salad:

  • 15 oz GARBANZO BEAN (CHICKPEA), 1 can, rinsed & drained
  • 1 cup RED ONION, diced
  • 1 large GREEN BELL PEPPER, chopped
  • 1 CUCUMBER SEEDLESS (ENGLISH OR HOTHOUSE) CUCUMBER, chopped
  • 1/3 cup SUN DRIED TOMATOES PACKED IN OIL
  • 3/4 cup KALAMATA BLACK OLIVES, pitted, chopped
  • 4 cup FRESH ARUGULA/BABY SPINACH MIX
  • 3.5 oz FETA CHEESE, REDUCED-FAT* crumbled, (about 1 cup)

Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp OIL FROM SUN DRIED TOMATOES JAR
  • 2 tbsp OLIVE OIL, EXTRA VIRGIN
  • 1 tbsp RED WINE VINEGAR
  • 1/2 LEMON, JUICED
  • 1/2 tbsp MUSTARD, DIJON
  • 4 – 5 cloves GARLIC, minced
  • 1/4 tsp NUTMEG, GROUND
  • 1 tsp OREGANO, dried
  • 1 tsp ROSEMARY, dried, crushed
  • 1 tsp HONEY
  • 1/4 cup BASIL, FRESH, chopped
  • 1 tbsp FRESH PARSLEY, chopped
  • 1 tsp RED PEPPER FLAKE (optional, or to taste)
  • SEA SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE

*Gluten-Free option: check your feta cheese ingredients to make sure no gluten stabilizers or modifications are added.

1. Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer with water to remove any outside debris.

Add clean quinoa, water or chicken broth, and sea salt to a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes, stir and turn heat down to low, cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes more or until liquid is absorbed and germ layer appears. Fluff with fork.

2. While quinoa is cooking make the vinaigrette. Whisk honey, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, oregano, rosemary, nutmeg, sun dried tomato oil from jar and olive oil together in a large mixing bowl. Add red pepper flake, salt and pepper to taste. Toss warm quinoa in dressing.

3. Add all chopped vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, olives, beans, basil, parsley and arugula/spinach.

Gently fold in feta cheese. Serve warm or cold with pita bread chips and hummus. Serving size about 1 1/2 cups salad.

NUTRITION INFO PER SERVING:  200 calories, 10g fat, 2g sat fat, 10mg cholesterol, 24g carb, 5g fiber, 3g sugar, 6g protein

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