Sweet Summer Quinoa Salad


I don't know about you, but the last thing I want to eat on super hot summer days is a hot meal. The warmer weather means I'm craving cooler recipes, which is how this little salad came about. I created it when I was trying to come up with a filling, healthy snack to bring to a beach bonfire a week ago and was really happy with the results. 

Truth be told, I'm still trying to perfect the balsamic glaze for this recipe, so the adjustments to the dressing I've made in the instructions below are still untested! However, I think they're a lot closer than my most recent attempt, which had over two cups of vinegar (hence the dark brown quinoa). But it was still a sweet and tasty dish at our most recent picnic in Balboa Park and made for yummy leftovers the next day too. :)

  • 1.5 cups of uncooked quinoa
  • 1 lb of cherry tomatoes (I used a package of TJ's Organic Mixed Medley)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • feta cheese
  • 2 tsps. basil (I used dried herbs, but fresh would have been better)

1. Rinse the quinoa in a rice strainer and prepare according to package instructions. I recommend using a rice cooker, which is usually two parts water to one part quinoa (so 3 cups of water would be needed for this recipe). 
2. While the quinoa is cooking, start the balsamic glaze dressing. Mix the balsamic vinegar and the brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. When it starts to boil, turn it down to low heat and let it simmer and reduce for 15-20 minutes. When it's complete, it should coat the back of a spoon. Take it off the heat and let cool. 
3. Dice the red onion and halve all of the cherry tomatoes. The flavor seems to come out in the salad more if you cut the tomatoes in half. 
4. When the quinoa is done, mix in the tomatoes, onions, basil and balsamic glaze. The salad is best served chilled, so put the bowl in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
5. Before serving, add feta cheese to your preference.