Red Quinoa Salad with Arugula, Artichoke Hearts, and Olives

Sometimes a side dish will steal the show -- and when that's the case, maybe it should be the main dish.

Makes 6 cups, serves 12 as a side dish

Red Quinoa Salad with Arugula, Artichoke Hearts and OlivesAs with many grain based salads, this is merely a template for mixing and matching different kinds of quinoa (see Note) and vegetables, depending on your mood, the season, what you have in the fridge. I bought red quinoa on impulse, and then was too intimidated to use it for a while, but now realize the colors are pretty interchangeable. The cooking times may vary slightly – follow package directions – and the texture ranges from chewy (white) to crunchier (black) but it takes a pretty evolved palate to distinguish significant flavor differences between the varieties. My point being: use whichever one you want, and enjoy the gorgeous colors.

This one was inspired by leftovers in my fridge (as almost all of my grain based salads are) and also a recipe in my friend Molly Watson’s book Greens & Grains, which is filled with excellent recipes for the way we’re all interested in eating right now. The photos ain’t too shabby either.

The yield of this salad is large as I was making it for a potluck meal.  You are welcome to cut the recipe in half, or even just reduce the amount of quinoa so that it is a more proportionately vegetable based side dish.

  • 4 1/4 cups water
  • Coarse or kosher salt to taste
  • 4 tablespoons virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 large shallots, minced (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2 cups red quinoa (1 12-ounce package; see Note)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cups chopped good olive, green, black, or a mixture
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, well drained and chopped
  • 1 (5-ounce) container arugla, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Add a bit of salt.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the shallots and sauté for about 4 minutes until tender and golden. Add the quinoa and stir occasionally for about three minutes until it is well coated with the shallot-oil mixture. Pour in the boiling water, stir, cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes until the water is absorbed and the quinoa has sprouted those little tendrils that let you know that it is cooked. Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.

3. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice in a large, shallow serving bowl with salt (remember that the olives are salty) and pepper to taste. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, let is sit uncovered for another 5 minutes to cool slightly (if you have the patience to wash another dish, spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet to let it cool more evenly), then turn it into the serving bowl and toss to coat with the dressing. Add the olives and artichoke hearts, toss again to mix well, and let cool to room temperature. Add the arugula and mint, toss again, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Serve at room temperature. You can also refrigerate the salad for up to 2 days and serve either chilled or at room temperature.

close up Red Quinoa Salad with Arugula, Artichoke Hearts and Olives

3 Shades of Quinoa

You are welcome to use regular white quinoa or back quinoa – the flavors don’t vary that much, but clearly the colors do. It’s a pretty fabulous thing to mix and match the colors of the quinoa against the colors of the other ingredients you are adding to the dish.

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