“Why popping?” you might ask.  I bet if you ask this questions, you’ve never had quinoa.  Am I right?  Aha, i thought so!  Quinoa is amazing!  Most commonly thought of as grain, it is actually a seed, and is a member of grass family (think wild rice).  Why is it so good?  It’s extremely high in fiber and protein – so it is a must staple for all of you, especially for vegetarians and vegans.  Just 1/3 cup of cooked quinoa will deliver 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.

But enough of the healthy chat.  Afterall, if it doesn’t taste good, you wouldn’t eat it.  And I promise, this salad is delicious!

1 cup red quinoa (I love the color, but feel free to use the standard quinoa if you can’t find red)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1/3 cup chopped Kalamata olives
1/4 cup onion, diced

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed) – want more lemon flavor? add some zest!
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, grated
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a small pot.  Season with salt.  Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked and the water has evaporated.  Want more flavor?  Use chicken or vegetable broth instead of water.  When cooking quinoa, I sometimes add a few crushed cloves of garlic and a bay leaf to the water.
2. While the quinoa is cooking, mix the vegetables in a bowl.
3. Whisk the dressing ingredients together.  Adjust the seasoning.
4.  Pour the dressing over hot quinoa.  Adding dressing while quinoa is still hot will allow it to absorb more flavor.
5.  Mix quinoa and vegetables and eat.

Beauty of this salad is that it’s great at any temperature – hot, warm, room, or chilled.  Make a double batch and you’ll have lunch ready for the next day!