My field season is rapidly coming to an end. I officially moved out of the field station and back to Davis 2 weeks ago and I only have one more experiment to do later in August.  Before I’m totally out of field-living mode, I wanted to share a recipe that I made a lot at the field station this summer.

This salad was inspired by Erin, the field assistant I lived and worked with over the summer. The girl pretty much lives on salads made of greens, some kind of grain, and other vegetables. Since I’ve been trying to eat a wider variety of grains anyway, I figured I might as well give her approach a try. I started with quinoa and played around with additions until I came up with a pretty good salad base consisting of quinoa, chickpeas, and feta cheese. I’ve done variations with whatever vegetables I happen to have around or whatever is in season and it has consistently turned out well. For this summer version, I used cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, and parsley. I even got to supplement the cherry tomatoes from the co-op with a few from the “garden” at Vicken’s house!!! I guess it’s a little pitiful how excited I got about this, but really! Aren’t they beautiful!?!

I add quite a bit of vegetables to this so that the quinoa isn’t the main component.  I find it’s a great way to eat a big serving of vegetables without having to eat a boring green salad.  You can add less vegetables if that’s your preference, or you could even serve this over salad greens with some extra dressing. The best thing about this salad is that you can make a big batch and then eat it for lunch for a few days. This assumes, of course, that you (like me) can stand to eat the same meal day after day.  I used to think I was boring for doing this, but, in the spirit of positivity, I now prefer to think of it as “adaptive.”  I am a broke grad student after all.

In case you’re curious, I’ve made a spring version of this salad with arugula, green beans, and green onions and another summer version with roasted zucchini and tomatoes. The possibilities are endless!  Despite this, I figure it’s in my best interest to come up with a different type of salad or bulk meal to make before I get totally sick of this one…  I’ll let you know when I find it.

Quinoa salad with tomatoes and cucumbers

1 cup quinoa (I used red, but you can use white)
2 cups water

1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large cucumber, peeled, quartered length-wise, and sliced
4 green onions, green and white parts, sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 can chick peas, drained
4 oz. feta crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine water and quinoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain any excess liquid from quinoa and set aside to cool to room temperature. (You can make the quinoa ahead of time and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the rest of the salad.)

2. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper in a jar and shake to combine. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and mix well. Add the sliced vegetables, chick peas, and parsley and stir to combine. Top with the crumbled feta and serve immediately.

**I’ve kept leftovers for up to 4 days in the fridge. It is great cold or at room temperature, and it makes a great light lunch.