This Mediterranean quinoa salad features amazing flavors, including lots of fresh basil and parsley, sweet red onion, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, capers , and pine nuts — all tossed together with a bright and sunny citrus dressing! It’s fresh, light, healthy and delicious — and you are going to love it, it’s summer in a bowl!
I simply love the combination of capers and sun-dried tomatoes, which reminds me of an amazing tapenade that I haven’t made in ages. Well a tapenade WITHOUT the very thing that makes it a tapenade — olives. This delicious imposter, which I guess is really a pesto, is made with sun-dried tomatoes and capers and a few other good things. For years it was my go-to sandwich spread, along with classic Genovese pesto. I can’t tell you how delicious a sandwich made with a delicious duo of pestos along with fresh Italian mozzarella, summer tomatoes and baby rucola is. I promise to share that recipe with you soon!
Yes, so back to yet another one of the salads I love to make — this Mediterranean quinoa salad. I even do this one with beluga lentils from time to time and really can’t decide which version tastes better. They are both fantastic! I think that has to do with summer’s amazing herbs and of course some good quality oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes. I usually buy mine at a delicatessen nearby or in the antipasti section of my local bio-supermarket — every place prepares them a little different (marinated in herbs, garlic, etc.), so I tend to stick to buying my same two favorites. I think they are more flavorful than the jarred versions, but I will leave that for you to decide.
As for capers, I prefer capers in brine. So almost always use this type. Not every supermarket sells them, so again this seems to be something I always pick up at my local bio-supermarket or my favorite delicatessen that happens to sell a great assortment of other gourmet and organic food products. If you have the packed in vinegar type on hand, then I would give them a little rinse before adding them to the salad. Admittedly, our fridge is also stocked with a jar of vinegar packed capers. Yes, my favorite Schwabe hasn’t quite picked up on the difference yet — and just maybe a lot of people haven’t. It could very well be that I am a little (lot!) snobby when it comes to my capers!
This salad also makes a great make ahead dish. Quinoa can easily be cooked the day before and stored in the fridge when cooled (as I also do with lentils), so with that said you could easily have a healthy dinner bowl ready in just about as long as it takes you to toast the pine nuts — mere minutes. Which means it’s a great weeknight dinner option, or a lovely simple supper on a lazy Sunday night. You can also feel good about it being vegetarian and if it matters…gluten-free!
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Capers
- 1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed (200 g)
- 1 medium red onion, sliced very thinly
- 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- 2 handfuls basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 10-12 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes halves, drained and chopped (ca. 80 g)
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (25 g)
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- fresh parmesan shavings (optional)
- To cook the quinoa, rinse the uncooked quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups (500 ml) water.
- Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and then place lid back on to steam for another 4-5 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a large serving bowl to cool.
- Once the quinoa has cooled to room temperature, add the red onion, parsley, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and toasted pine nuts to the bowl.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, and the pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over the salad.
- Give everything a good toss. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if needed. Serve with parmesan shavings, if desired. Enjoy!
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