Quinoa was one of those ingredients I’d buy when good intentions were at their peak, only to wuss out when the weekday I’d penciled in to cook it came round. Thank goodness I overcame my inner picky kid and tried it anyway. A staple for all seasons, and one that factors into more than a few favorite recipes, including this one.

It’s especially wonderful now, when the food coma of Thanksgiving Week is behind us, and the lingering Indian summer temps remain.

Cue any and all side dishes with neither “casserole” in the name nor “cream of” anything in the ingredients.

Because French’s Fried Onions and cranberry orange relish and pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream. Because giblet gravy and cornbread dressing and leftovers for days. Because prepping and cooking and hosting meant less time at the gym, and the scale knows exactly how many mugs of spiked cider I sipped.

So long as I can get my hands on fresh cherry tomatoes, this will be a regular in the Walden side dish rotation.

Thank you, Bobby Flay!

Easy Mediterranean Quinoa (courtesy Bobby Flay)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, smashed and chopped to a paste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup quinoa
2 cups red and yellow grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 green onions, sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, sliced
Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, garlic and some salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified. Set aside.
Combine quinoa, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl, fluff with a fork and let sit for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Add the tomatoes, olives, green onions, cherry peppers, red onions, cucumbers and dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate. Original recipe calls for 8 hour chilling period. I was too impatient for that and thought it tasted awesome right away! Don’t forget the fresh feta.
MFP Entry: Easy Mediterranean Quinoa, 6 half cup servings, 294 cals.