By April Swiger, Contributing Writer
This quinoa salad has the unmistakable taste of fresh dill, tangy yogurt, and refreshing lemon and cucumber. Quinoa is gluten-free, packed with nutrients, and fills you up without ill effects when prepared properly. When soaked with a little raw apple cider vinegar, it’s easy to digest, and can be used in countless recipes ranging from breakfast porridges to summer salads.
Cucumbers have been on sale at my little local market the past two weeks and I’ve been itching to add them to a creamy yogurt based salad. As spring has finally sprung, I’m eager to begin making hearty and nourishing salads again for the warmer months. I love the idea of a filling side dish that can easily transfer over to a simple main dish. With the addition of chickpeas to this salad, it can be both!
Quinoa is a grain-like seed (from the same family as beets and spinach) and benefits from a long soak like other grains and legumes to reduce anti nutrients. There is a distinct bitter taste to quinoa which can be reduced significantly through soaking, and a thorough rinse before cooking. I have found that as I plan my meals for the week, adding an alert to my phone to “soak quinoa” the day before I need it has proved to be an easy way to incorporate this traditional practice into my routine.
I love the addition of a creamy and tangy dressing to this salad! It’s reminiscent of a Greek tzatziki sauce but with the delicious taste of fresh dill. I used a Russian kefir yogurt for this recipe, but any plain, full-fat yogurt will work just fine. A whisk works great to blend all the ingredients together.
If you enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, you can easily adapt this recipe with different dressings and vegetables that are available to you. Kimi has shared a fantastic list of nourishing salad dressings that are very simple to make and can be substituted in this recipe. Along with that her cookbook, Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons, includes more salad dressing recipes and a couple of quinoa salads as well. Her summer quinoa salad is one of my favorites!
Other recipes you may enjoy:
- Mexican Quinoa Spinach Salad
- Quinoa Orange Arugula and Beet Salad
- Simple Mexican Quinoa Bowl
- Quinoa Tabbouleh
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 2 cups quinoa
- 2 cups warm filtered water for soaking
- 2 tbls raw apple cider vinegar (you can also use yogurt, kombucha, whey or kefir)
- 2 cups filtered water for cooking
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cucumber, peeled if desired, and cubed
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1½-2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15 oz can)
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup yogurt
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 small garlic cloves, minced or crushed
- 2 tbls fresh dill, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- The night before you make this dish, plan to soak your quinoa to make it more digestible. Place the quinoa in a non-reactive bowl or jar (preferably glass), and mix it with the warm filtered water and your raw ACV. Allow it to soak for at least 8 hours, and up to 24.
- When you're ready to make the salad, drain and rinse your quinoa in a fine sieve, allowing the water to run clear.
- Place your rinsed quinoa in a pot with 2 more cups of water and bring it to a boil.
- When it's boiling, cover the pot, and turn the heat to low, allowing it to simmer for 12-15 minutes. (These instructions are the same as Kimi's basic quinoa recipe and work for the various brands of quinoa that I've tried).
- When the quinoa is done, place it in a bowl to cool. You can leave it on the counter, or put it in the refrigerator.
- In the meantime, assemble your dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic cloves, fresh dill and salt and pepper.
- When the quinoa has cooled, gently mix in the cucumber, red onion and chickpeas.
- Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture (you may not need it all), and mix thoroughly.
- This salad is best served at room temperature after preparing it, or lightly chilled. Top with additional dill, feta cheese, olives, or tomatoes if desired!