Foodie Fridays: Greek Quinoa Salad with Shrimp
Posted by Guest in Foodie Fridays
Our air conditioning went out last week. It was 92 degrees outside and 85 miserable degrees inside and I quickly realized just how soft modern technology has made me. I wasn't just hot, I was steaming. Had we not already gone out to lunch before arriving home to a surprise sauna, I'd have happily made the command decision that cooking was out of the question and we were going out to dinner--anywhere with air conditioning. But, since we try to avoid eating out too often, I faced the task of figuring out what to make that would involve the least amount of heat and kitchen time. I hovered in front of the refrigerator, surveying my options and enjoying the cool air, and decided on a Greek Quinoa Salad with Shrimp -- partly because it's wonderful, but to be honest, mostly because it only requires about twenty minutes of stove time (to cook the quinoa) and can be served at room temperature.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has been getting some good press in recent years and easier to find as it's become a bit more mainstream. If you have a natural foods store nearby, you'll likely find it there and if you're lucky, you'll find it reasonably priced in the bulk foods section. It's also pretty easily found anywhere that has a good selection of Bob's Red Mill products. Or, if all else fails, you can order it online (I love Alter Eco). It's totally worth any effort it might take to find, because this little seed is a literal food powerhouse. Though it looks like a grain, quinoa is actually the seed of a plant related to chard, beets and spinach that's been around for more than 5,000 years. It comes in white, red and black varieties, but white is the most common. (I happened to have red on hand, so that's what you see pictured above.) High in protein and gluten-free, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, pretty much solidifying its place in the "superfoods hall of fame."

Easy and quick to cook, you can substitute quinoa in many of the places you'd normally use rice or couscous. There's just one thing to remember: always rinse quinoa before cooking it. Quinoa seeds are covered with saponin (a naturally occurring chemical compound) and while commercial harvesting usually removes it, any remaining residue can lend a bitter taste, so toss into a fine mesh strainer and rinse well before cooking.

Looking for more recipes using quinoa? Why not get started with Quinoa Crusted Salmon, Warm Quinoa Breakfast Cereal or Seafood Stew Over Quinoa?

Greek Quinoa Salad with Shrimp
1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups seedless cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 cups small shrimp, cooked and deveined (cold)
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Place rinsed quinoa and water into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for approximately fifteen minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Once cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool approximately ten minutes while prepping the rest of the ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil until combined.

Once the quinoa has cooled slightly, remove to a serving bowl and stir in the spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers and onion. Pour the lemon dressing over the salad, stir and season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold in the shrimp and feta cheese. Either serve immediately at room temperature or cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

yield: 4 servings

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