Lighter meals like salads that are relatively quick to prepare are a great option for quick weeknight meals. Often used in salads, quinoa, a pseudocereal botanically related to spinach and amaranth, originated in the Andean region of northwestern South America. Quinoa is rich in protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and minerals.
Quinoa, Asparagus and Feta Salad
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup quinoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
4 ounces crumbled feta, Dodonis
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 lemon, zested
For the dressing:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Greek honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan, add the quinoa and salt, stir, and then cover the saucepan with a lid. Reduce heat to low. Simmer the mixture until quinoa is tender, 10-15 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat, let quinoa rest for 5 minutes, and then transfer quinoa to a bowl to cool.
Bring a pot of water up to a boil, add a pinch of salt, and cook the asparagus just until tender but still crisp, 2 to 3 minutes; drain in a colander. Stir the asparagus, feta, almonds, green onions, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest into quinoa. Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, honey, garlic, Dijon mustard, and black pepper together in a bowl. Pour dressing over quinoa mixture and stir gently to combine.
Broiled Vegetables with Quinoa and Feta
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Greek dried oregano
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt
1/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium-large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium-large red onion, sliced
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
4 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
1 cup crumbled feta, Dodonis
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
In a bowl, whisk the vinegar, oregano, garlic, salt, 3 tablespoons of the oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, olives, the remaining oil and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Broil until the vegetables are lightly charred and tender, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl along with the pan juices. Add quinoa, feta and pine nuts, drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.
Shrimp with Zucchini, Lemon and Garlic
Shrimp. Photo: Jud McCranie, via Wikimedia Commons
2 pounds fresh or frozen large shrimp in shells
4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups sliced zucchini
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Greek dried oregano
Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact, if desired. Rinse shrimp in cool water, pat dry. Squeeze 1/4 cup juice from about one and a half of the lemons. Reserve the remaining lemon half.
In a 10-inch nonstick skillet heat about half of the oil over medium-high. Add shrimp, 2 of the garlic cloves, a pinch of the salt, and the crushed red pepper flakes. Cook and stir 2 minutes or just until shrimp are opaque. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Transfer to a serving plate and cover to keep warm.
Heat the remaining oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, zucchini, pepper, and the remaining garlic clove and salt. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until zucchini is just tender, stirring occasionally. Add the oregano and the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and stir. Serve over cooked orzo or quinoa. Squeeze juice from the reserved lemon half to serve, if preferred.