It took me a while to fall in love with quinoa. It was a recipe I prepared a few years ago from a cookbook that taught me the proper way to season it and, since then, I've been hooked. The trick, I've learned, is to make a dressing that is incorporated into the cooked quinoa. If you just drizzle it with oil and citrus and a sprinkle of salt, it won't distribute the flavor and, instead, you'll be left with sections that are intensely seasoned and others that are lacking it.
This salad is definitely not lacking flavor. I found myself building off each element. I started with the dressing, which is primarily a mixture of fresh herbs (mint, basil and parsley) and lime juice. There's a bit of minced ginger in there, adding even more brightness to the dish. The berries and feta were the last to go in. At first I thought, "Berries and quinoa. Is that weird?" I threw some of the quinoa mixture into a separate bowl, topped it with some blueberries and raspberries and feta. First bite. I knew. We had a winner. Even my father, who gave it a quizzical look when I passed the bowl to him, ate his serving. Always a sign that a recipe is a success.
Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta
1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
1 pint blueberries, rinsed and dried
1 pint raspberries, rinsed and dried
1/8 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 tablespoons minced mint
1 tablespoon minced basil
1 tablespoon minced parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
Juice of one lime 3 tablespoons olive oil
1. To cook the quinoa, add the quinoa and water to a pot and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until all the water has been absorbed, approximately 18 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together minced mint, ginger, lime juice, olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt.
3. Transfer quinoa to a large serving bowl. Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Pour dressing over quinoa and toss to combine.
4. Gently mix in red onion and feta and most of the berries, reserving a handful of each. Taste for seasoning and, if necessary, add a little more salt, about another 1/2 teaspoon.
5. Distribute the remaining berries on top and serve.