I'm quite smitten with the sunny bright flavors of the Mediterranean. In fact, if you take me out for lunch and there's a Greek salad on the menu...
Well, let's just say it probably has my name written all over it. Call me an old "stick in the mud" if you want, but, if it's a good Greek salad, I'll order it again the next time you take me out. And the next time, and...
So, when I was thinking about what to do with my big pot of Perfect Quinoa this past week, I didn't have to ponder very long. I checked the fridge to see what else I had available and found quite a loot: rotisserie chicken, cucumber, Feta cheese, avocados and a treasured little carton of beautiful microgreens that I'd picked up recently at Whole Foods. Oh, and there was a bowl of beautiful ripe tomatoes on the counter, the final piece of the puzzle. A plan for lunch was in the making...
Don't feel like you need to have the same exact ingredients for your salad. This is where the fun comes in - just use what you have, or ingredients you prefer. Bell peppers would be a delicious addition, as would red onions or scallions. Kalamta olives are always wonderful in a Greek salad. In the summer, when fresh herbs are plentiful, a handful of basil or oregano would add a flavorful, gourmet touch. You can also omit the chicken for a vegetarian option. See what I mean? It's easy to make it your own.
My dressing was inspired by a favorite restaurant here in Raleigh that Scott and I visit frequently, when we need to eat lean, quick and economical. We happened to be enjoying a big Greek salad (surprise, surprise) together, when I noticed one of the staff members refilling the salad dressing bottles.
They have their own signature dressing and, while she was making it I zeroed in, watching carefully how she was putting it all together. Before we left, I purchased a bottle of the yummy dressing to take with me so I could compare. When I got home, I tried to imitate the recipe and I think I'm fairly close, or at least have come up with a decent rival!
We loved this bright, fresh, healthy salad, and it will definitely have lots of repeat performances here at the Café. I think once you try it, you'll also be making it again and again. Hey, how about a deal? I won't call you a stick in the mud if you refrain from thinking about me that way. Fair?
P.S. I love to serve this salad, layered, in my Weck jars. This makes for a fun presentation, and guests can simply invert the pretty little layered salad onto their plates and drizzle it with the delicious dressing. It's easy to make ahead this way, and an added bonus is that because the avocado is tucked between other ingredients, it keeps it's lovely color till serving time. The layering-in-a-jar technique is also a great way to make a portable lunch for work.
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- 2 cups cooked quinoa*
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives or other fresh herbs you could subsitutute basil, oregano or thyme for the chives
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken i like to use rotisserie chicken
- ½ medium-size English seedless cucumber
- 4 medium Roma or plum tomatoes cut in ¼-1/2 inch dice
- 2 medium avocado cut in ¼-1/2 inch dice
- 1 cup Feta cheese
- 1 cup micro greens or baby arugula
- For the dressing
- 6 tablespoons canola oil
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine cooked quinoa with chopped parsley and chives
Layer ingredients in jars as desired. I like to plan the layering in advance, so that the layers will compliment each other in color and texture. Alternatively, arrange ingredients on a plate. Top with micro greens (or tiny baby arugula,)
For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a medium-size glass jar. Shake well to combine. Shake again, just before serving.
Drizzle the salad lightly with the dressing just before serving. Pass extra dressing at the table.
* It makes a huge difference how quinoa is cooked. It can either be wet and soggy or fluffy with delicious individual grains. For a easy tutorial on How to Make Perfect Quinoa check out this post.