Meatless Monday – Quinoa Salad with Artichokes, Olives and Chickpeas

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Quinoa is still the queen of the ancient grain world, just don’t tell freekah or farro.  Other grains try but they can’t steal the crown, perhaps because quinoa is so versatile and packed with nutrients. It is also the perfect backdrop for putting colorful veggies on display.  This yummy salad with quinoa, artichokes, olives, cherry tomatoes and chickpeas with fresh herbs tossed in a light lemony dressing is deceptively hearty and filled with protein. I love this combination of flavors.  The salty kalamata olives combined with the earthy chickpeas, lemony artichoke hearts and sweet tomatoes are lovely together, making a pretty and delicious meal. It got rave reviews last night from my husband, but then again, with these ingredients it’s pretty hard not to like.   If you are looking for an easy-to-assemble-in-less-than-half-an-hour-dish, this is it!  Since it is served slightly warm or at room temperature, this salad makes the perfect buffet or potluck dish.  Make it  ahead and let it sit until you’re ready-no last minute reheating required. In fact it only gets better the longer it sits and marinates, allowing the flavors to develop. This would also be a great use for leftover quinoa.  Just toss together with the veggies and herbs. Done!

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Why should you eat more quinoa?  Quinoa is known for being  great source of protein,  but it’s not only the amount, it’s the type of protein. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a ‘complete protein’, which is rarely found in plant foods, though common in meats. Amino acids are considered ‘essential’ if our bodies can’t produce them and we can only get them through our diets. My husband asked me how our livestock animals get enough protein when they only eat grass or grains.  I did not know the answer so I did what everyone does today, I googled it. Herbivores, animals that get all of their nutrition from grass and other plants, have no problem getting enough protein in their diet. Unlike humans, herbivores are capable of digesting plant cells and getting to the nutrients locked inside, like protein. So there you have it.  Cows and other ruminants who spend their day chewing their cud have superior digestive systems. But I digress, back to the star of today.  Quinoa also offers a good dose of fiber, iron and a whole host of other vitamins and minerals. It is low in calories, gluten-free and cruelty-free making it a great dietary choice for everyone.

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TIPS:  This is a vegan salad, however, crumbling feta on top would be a delicious addition for cheese lovers.  I did not have any or I may have been tempted to add a sprinkle or two.  Don’t forget to rinse the quinoa before cooking to remove the bitter saponin, a naturally occurring substance that coats quinoa to protect it from predators. Just use a colander with a fine mesh or you will lose some of your quinoa down the drain.  Some quinoa is pre-rinsed so check the label. Very important! Zest your lemon before cutting it in half.  Once they are cut, they are almost impossible to zest. I’ve tried…

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QUINOA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKES, OLIVES AND CHICKPEAS

1 cup quinoa (plain or tri-color)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 16 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1 16 oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or julienned (plus more for garnish)

Dressing (Note:  This is a lightly dressed salad.  If you like a lot of dressing, double the recipe):

1/4 cup olive oil
zest from one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano, minced (or 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning)
Salt and pepper, to taste

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  • Rinse quinoa and cook according to package instructions. Then transfer cooked quinoa to a large serving bowl and fluff with a fork to remove any lumps.

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  • Add the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, chickpeas ,olives, and basil.

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  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the couscous mixture and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with more basil, if desired. Serve room temperature.

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Quinoa Salad with Artichokes, Olives and Chickpeas

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 cup quinoa (plain or tri-color)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 16 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1 16 oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or julienned (plus more for garnish)

Dressing (Note:  This is a lightly dressed salad.  If you like a lot of dressing, double the recipe):

1/4 cup olive oil
zest from one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano, minced (or 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning)
Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Make quinoa according to package instructions. Then transfer cooked quinoa to a large serving bowl and stir to remove any lumps.
  • Add the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, chickpeas ,olives, and basil.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour the dressing over the couscous mixture and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with more basil, if desired.
  • Serve room temperature.

 

 

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