when i was super little (we’re talking 4ish years old here), my babysitter would take my sister and me to the local pizza place every friday for dinner. in fact, we were such regulars that one week, the staff (it was a small, family owned place, so it could have been the owner), treated us to our meal on the house. i thought this was the coolest thing ever! (and still remember it approximately 28 years later, in case you’re a small business owner and wondering if treating your customers well is worth the “expense”.)
we’d order basically the same thing each time: a small cheese pizza and a greek salad. the greek salads there are huge and the small pizzas easily feed two adults so it’s not hard to imagine that this was plenty of food for 1 adult and two tiny humans. what is more remarkable to me, in retrospect, is that small kate liked greek salads.
current kate is not a terribly adventurous eater (at least not by some standards) and less-small kate was a downright picky eater, but apparently greek salads snuck on to small kate’s list of acceptable foods before less-small kate realized that feta, red onions, and green peppers are not exactly made of pasta! (the olives were a no back then, but i’m sure my babysitter didn’t mind having more for herself.)
i’m glad greek salad did sneak through just in time though, because i’ve enjoyed it ever since. i still find olives to be quite strong, so i always mince them up, much to my friends’ amusement. with this salad, i wanted to replace the lettuce with quinoa, for some added protein and to make the salad more of a substantial meal. i also added chicken, but that’s definitely optional. the greek salads that small kate enjoyed did not have chicken and this one doesn’t need to either. this one has more lemon than a traditional greek salad might, but ever since deciding a few years ago that i don’t hate lemon in savory dishes (see related: not adventurous eater), i’ve been on something of a lemon-in-savory-dishes kick.
this salad is perfect all summer long, as it’s full of crunchy, cool vegetables, but with the quinoa, it’s especially nice as the evenings are starting to get just a little bit cooler, but not so cold that there aren’t still big piles of delicious tomatoes and cucumbers at the market. perhaps this quinoa greek salad will become my new weekly routine, at least until the summer veggies disappear.
do you have a favorite meal or food-tradition that you enjoy every week? tell us about it in the comments below!
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1/2 of 1 lemon)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 20 oz. (567 g. / /1.25 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1/2 of 1 lemon)
- juice from half a lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 1/4 oz. (177 g. / 1 cup) uncooked quinoa
- 1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced and then minced
- 1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise then cut into 1/4″ slices
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved OR 1 large tomato, chopped
- 2 3/4 oz. (77 g. / 1/2 cup) pitted black olives, cut in half lengthwise
- 4 oz. (115 g. / 1 cup) feta cheese, cubed
- trim any yucky bits off the chicken and place the kitchen in a ziptop bag. add the 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, juice from half a lemon, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the bag with the chicken, seal it up, and then massage it get the chicken evenly covered in oil and lemon. place the bag in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours (beyond that and your chicken may start to toughen).
- about 10 minutes before the chicken will be done marinating, either preheat your griddler/panini press to high or preheat the oven to 450° F. high heat = faster cooking = less moisture lost
- once the chicken is done marinating, either transfer it to the griddle or put it in a baking dish and place it in the oven. if you have an instant read thermometer, cook the chicken until it reaches 165° F. otherwise, plan on less than 10 minutes in the griddle or about 15 – 18 minutes in the oven.
- once the chicken is done cooking, transfer it to a cutting board and let it rest and cool for a few minutes before cutting it into bite size pieces.
- while the chicken is marinating, cook the quinoa according to the package directions and once it’s cooked, spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool faster.
- combine all of the ingredients for the dressing in a medium size glass jar with a lid, set aside.
- in a large bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, chicken, and salad ingredients. shake the jar of dressing then pour over the salad. stir and toss the salad to combine the ingredients and dressing evenly. serve immediately at room temperature or refrigerate for an hour and serve chilled.
tightly covered leftovers will keep for several days in the refrigerator.