Salty Citrus Quinoa Salad

We all have that friend in our lives that took us by surprise when we first got to know them. That person who, upon first impression, you didn't think would have much to contribute to "girls' night". They seem pretty "ho-hum" and you could never imagine sharing a glass of wine with them, let alone divulging your deepest darkest secrets to them. Then you get to know them and you find out they have a wild side and they make girls' night worth going to. 

This quinoa salad is like that friend. It seems kind of "ho-hum" upon appearance and then you try it and your taste buds are blown. You realize that your next meal is worth eating as long as this quinoa salad is part of it. This salad really doesn't look like much. In fact, you might even shove it to the bottom of your "to make" list. I promise you it will take your taste buds on a ride. 

The best part? You can feel good about enjoying this salad. Quinoa, which is actually a seed and not a grain, is a complete protein. This is super good news if you are someone who chooses to follow a plant-based diet and limit the animal products. It is also packed with fiber so it should keep you satisfied for a while. If you are interested in learning more about the health benefits of quinoa, check out this article. All the the salty citrusy goodness comes from 100% whole food sources. I have been enjoying this quinoa salad for lunch served over some arugula or spring mix but It also work great as a delicious side dish. 

Salty Citrus Quinoa Salad

Adapted from this recipe on The Chew

Makes about 4 cups

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives (the really bright green olives)

2 tablespoons capers

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup dates, pitted (about 2 Medjool dates)

Zest and juice of 1/2 a large orange or 1 small orange

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley 

4 ounces feta, crumbled (optional)

1/4 cup shelled pistachios

1. Add olives, capers, garlic, dates, orange juice, orange zest, and parsley to the bowl of a food processor. pulse until finely chopped and all ingredients are combined. Season with salt and pepper. 

2. Add olive mixture to a medium bowl. Add feta and pistachios; stir to combine. Fold in quinoa until all ingredients are well incorporated. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 5 days.