I’m so excited to share this recipe with you all today, because it’s a bit of a trip down memory lane for me. Picture this: I’m a young, enthusiastic undergrad student at university, just starting to explore the world of ancient Greece and Rome through my classical studies courses. It was a time of discovery, not just in terms of academics, but also in the realm of food! So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to come across this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing in the campus cafeteria.
I know what you’re thinking – university cafeteria food? Really? But hear me out! Back in the day, as a vegetarian, options could be somewhat limited, and finding a tasty, satisfying meal on campus was often a challenge. But then, there it was – this delightful quinoa salad, bursting with Mediterranean flavors, just waiting for me to dig in. It quickly became a staple in my diet, and I have to admit, I might have eaten it a little more often than I care to admit.
You see, not only was it filling and nutritious, but there was something about those Mediterranean flavors that just seemed to enhance the ancient Greek texts I was reading. As I sat in the library, surrounded by books on philosophy and mythology, each bite transported me to the warm, sun-soaked shores of the Mediterranean. It was as if the flavors of olives, tomatoes, and lemon-tahini dressing were whispering to me the secrets of Plato’s Republic and the tales of Odysseus’ adventures.
Over time, my love for this salad grew stronger, and I found myself craving it even after I’d graduated and moved on from campus life. But as much as I loved that cafeteria version, I knew I could make it even better. So, I set out to create my own take on the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, perfecting the recipe and adding my own little twists along the way.
After many iterations and taste tests, I can confidently say that I’ve created a version of the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad that not only rivals but surpasses the one I enjoyed so often on campus. It’s still got all the nostalgic flavors that I remember so fondly – the salty tang of Kalamata olives, the juicy sweetness of cherry tomatoes, the bright burst of lemon and the creamy, nutty tahini dressing that pulls everything together. But it’s also got some new elements that elevate it to a whole new level of deliciousness.
First of all, I’ve swapped out traditional cucumber for some crunchy, refreshing English cucumber, which has a more delicate flavor and doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. I’ve also added some roasted red peppers for a bit of smokiness, and some fresh parsley and mint to give the salad a burst of green, herbal freshness. And finally, I’ve perfected the lemon-tahini dressing – it’s now lighter, tangier, and more flavorful than ever.
The result is a Mediterranean Quinoa Salad that’s an ode to my university days, but with a grown-up twist that makes it perfect for serving at dinner parties, picnics, or even as a hearty lunch on its own. It’s versatile, customizable, and oh-so-satisfying – I know you’re going to love it as much as I do.
From a more practical point of view, this salad is great because you can improvise a lot of the ingredients based on what you have on your fridge. Make it and eat it for days, and enjoy it cold in a packed lunch. There’s no going wrong!
So there you have it, friends – the story of how a humble quinoa salad from my university cafeteria days grew into a beloved, go-to recipe that I now share with all of you. I hope this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing brings you as much joy and nostalgia as it does for me.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing
A delicious and summery salad full of nutritious veggies and protein-packed grains.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 medium cucumber, diced
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
- 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
- 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
- 1/4 of a red onion, sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
For the Lemon-Tahini Dressing:
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2-3 tbsp water, or more as needed for desired consistency
Rinse the quinoa under cold water in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. In a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all the water and is tender. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and let it cool to room temperature.
While the quinoa is cooling, prepare the Lemon-Tahini Dressing. In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, ground cumin, and salt. Gradually add water until the dressing reaches your desired consistency. Set aside.
In a large salad bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, Kalamata olives, chickpeas, crumbled feta cheese, chopped parsley, and chopped mint.
Drizzle the Lemon-Tahini Dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. You can serve the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad immediately or let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
When ready to serve, give the salad a quick toss to redistribute the dressing, and enjoy your refreshing and nutritious Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing!