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This Mediterranean Quinoa Zucchini Salad is a favorite around here– it looks elegant, and comes together in 10 minutes (once you have your quinoa cooked). It actually started out as just a zucchini ribbon salad, but I kept finding myself serving it alongside quinoa for dinner, so now I just toss them together.
This is one of the most popular side dishes for our weeknight salmon dinners– because it’s so easy, so healthy, and so delicious. I wrap a big piece of salmon in foil, top with sea salt, pepper, and lots of dill, and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes. While that’s baking, I put on a pot of quinoa, throw this salad together, then sit down and relax with Alex while everything finishes cooking. It seriously is about 12 minutes of effort, and the end result is AMAZING.
And don’t worry about that zucchini core– it’s not going to waste. I either save it for a green juice (my Green Apple Cider calls for it, but it would go just as great in my Recovery Juice instead of cucumber), or chop it, freeze it, and use it in smoothies. My Chiang Mai Frozen Banana Coffee actually calls for frozen zucchini, but you could also sub it for the spinach in my Orange Dreamsicle or Metabolism Booster Smoothie. It’s a great “starter vegetable” for green juices and smoothies because it adds almost no green color (especially if you’re using the left over core from this recipe), and adds almost zero flavor. Although I am not a proponent of hiding vegetables from kids, this is a great way to introduce them to the world of drinking your veggies.
I had a big bowl of this salad for lunch today. I put on headphones, closed my eyes, and pretended I was on the Mediterranean (<– j/k, but I should have done this!) eating this instead of sitting in my dusty, torn apart condo, full of workers and boxes and piles of samples to go through. We are doing a last minute (a bit too last minute, if you ask me) renovation to get ready for baby. Except Alex doesn’t do anything small. Once we started talking about putting in a new bathtub for the baby, and adding some new built in storage spaces, he just kept adding to the list. . .
I am not complaining! It’s going to be wonderful to have extra space, some new paint, a completely redone master bathroom . . . it just doesn’t make for the most relaxing summer break. I can’t wait to get into the nursery and set it up, but that is still 2 weeks off before I can begin.
So until then, I am going to sit on my balcony, sipping a virgin mojito, BBQing salmon, and eating this salad, and maybe I’ll just look at a picture of the Mediterranean.
- ¾ cup quinoa (cooked to package directions, and cooled)
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup black olives, sliced
- ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup pine nuts (to garnish)
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Use a vegetable peeler to thinly slice zucchini into long ribbons. Peel the firm outer flesh of the zucchini into ribbons, but save the inner softer part for green juice or smoothies.
- In a bowl, later zucchini ribbons and cooled quinoa.
- Add the tomatoes, olives, red bell pepper, basil and minced garlic.
- In a small container, mix together dressing ingredients. I find this salad needs very little (if any) sea salt, so start sparingly until after you've tried it.
- Gently toss salad, and top with pine nuts.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for 1-2 days.
Other Refreshing Lettuce-Free Salads:
- The Ultimate Greek Chopped Salad, by The Garden Grazer
- Potato Salad with Green Beans and Asparagus, by Green Valley Kitchen (this is served warm, but I think it would make a great cold potato salad in the summer!)
- Easy Asian Quinoa Slaw, by Gimme Some Oven
- Radish and Fennel Orzo Salad, by Healthy Recipe Ecstasy
- Mayo-Free Broccoli Salad, by Vitamin Sunshine