Quinoa & Seafood Greek Salad

We just celebrated my gram’s 76th birthday. It was so fun! It’s easy to go all out for someone who has spared nothing to help others accomplish their dreams. She means a lot to me, and everyone she meets has felt her generosity and beautiful spirit. This year the celebration was a late lunch. We filled the house and patio with festive hues of pink (her favorite color) and filled the tables with snacks, sweets and hearty foods. Mommie asked me to make a cool salad to go along with the array of veggies, meats and breads. She specifically asked me to make a pasta salad, but I like to color outside the lines. I knew that sautéed veggies and baked chicken would go well with a Mediterranean inspired salad, so I had that in mind with a new twist. Although quinoa has it’s roots in South America, the salad’s deliciousness was kicked up a notch with this healthful ancient grain. This dish will be a hit with many guests because it is refreshing, yet filling. It has seafood in every bite, and the quinoa is nutritious and gluten-free. I’ve designed this dish to feed 30 guests. You may make portions smaller or larger according to your needs. It can also stand alone as a one-dish meal.
Ingredients

  • Any salt-free seasoning blend (Mrs. Dash, 21 seasoning, etc)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 large English cucumbers, washed, halved and seeded
  • 1 cup of pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 Lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dry oregano
  • ½ cup crumbled feta (I used herb feta)
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 package of quinoa (11 servings. I used a tricolor quinoa for an extra dimension of color)
  • ½ large red onion, minced
  • Sea salt
  • 1 lb of medium shrimp
  • 1lb bag of mixed seafood (such as scallops, calamari and shrimp, I bought from Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb baby spinach

 

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa according to directions. I used the microwave directions to free up stovetop space. Allow it to cool down once cooked.
  2.  On a large cutting board, cut halved cucumbers into thinly sliced pieces. Next, roughly chop tomatoes and add all contents to a large mixing bowl along with minced onion.
  3. In a large skillet, saute seafood, if raw. You have the option of unthawing already cooked seafood as well. You may need to break it up, since it is a large quantity. On medium high, heat 1 TBSP olive oil. Once heated, add seafood and toss in 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar and a dash of sea salt. Cook for about 3-5 minutes. Shrimp should become translucent and begin to turn pink. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.
  4. Saute baby spinach in about 1 to 2 tsp oil with sea salt and salt free seasoning. Should begin to wilt after 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  5. In a large mixing bowl mix quinoa, olives, seafood,  vegetables and about half the parsley.
  6. Dressing: in a small bowl add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar, the juice of 1/2 lemon, a dash of sea salt, and 1 TBSP dry oregano. Whisk together.
  7. Toss salad with dressing and place salad in its proper serving container.
  8. Sprinkle more salt free seasoning over the salad, sprinkle feta over the top, then add 1 cup of roughly chopped parsley over the top for garnish.
  9. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Salad before adding to serving container and topping with feta.

Mediterranean Potato Salad

Our dear friend Fall has arrived and with it, chillier daytime breezes, colder nights, and sometimes the need for our umbrellas. As the weather cools down, most of us find ourselves turning to the solace of richer and warmer foods. Nothing warms the home and the heart like an oven roasting deliciousness. The smell that wafts through the house prepares the taste buds and then the tummy.

Potato salad may be an old time summer American favorite, but that’s precisely why my curiosity was peaked and I wanted to take it and do it with a twist. With one small bag of red potatoes, a medium-sized pepper and lots of spices, I was able to make the most dreamy and colorful side dish you could ask for to accompany just about anything.

This mayonnaise-free salad should be served at room temperature. The strong oregano flavors and roasted vegetables gives off a strong Mediterranean flare that can easily accompany a protein and nothing more.

You will need:

  • 1 24 oz bag of baby red potatoes
  • 1 medium-sized red bell pepper
  • Oregano
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea Salt (coarse)
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp minced Garlic
  • Dijon Mustard

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Wash potatoes, being careful to cut off spuds and throw away any potatoes that have been too badly bruised or rotten. Cut the potatoes into 1 inch chunks. Toss potatoes in a mixing bowl and coat with about 1 tbsp of EVOO.

3. On a large cookie sheet, spread out potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat on the top rack of the oven for about 15 minutes, depending on the oven. While the potatoes are cooking, julienne the red bell pepper and mince the garlic. Set aside.

4. When it is time to take out the potatoes,the white flesh should become golden brow. Flip the pieces of potato over so that the may cook on the other side. Add the bell peppers and minced garlic to the cookie sheet and place back in the oven.

5. The vegetables should cook fairly fast from this point, so for the next 5 to 10 minutes, keep a close eye. Cooking too long will result in burning the garlic.

6. Remove from oven, and potatoes should be golden brown with a darker crispness at the edges. In your mixing bowl, and 1/2 tsp of dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp of dry oregano, and 2 tsp of EVOO.

7. Serve at room temperature alongside your meal.

*For slightly lower calorie count, do not add additional EVOO to the dish. You may also accent the flavoring by drizzling the dish with lemon juice.