~ Full of vibrant flavors! Nutty quinoa, creamy feta, crunchy carrots and refreshing citrus. A quick and easy salad that’s loaded with nutrition! ~
This past summer, my family took a trip to the most magical place in the world. Yep, we went to Disney World! And let me tell you, it was the most fantastic vacation. Ever.
I’ve been there lots of times. My mom and I used to go every summer (my dad was afraid to fly), and I’ve got tons of awesome memories. Every trip has brought new adventures and more memorable moments.
One of my most favorite memories (then and now!) are the fun character meals. (I mean, does it get any better than hugging Mickey and the gang at your table?!) And the Disney magic extends into the food! I mean, it’s just so good. That’s all. Just. Plain. Good.
This year, while we were visiting Winnie the Pooh and his friends, I had an incredible quinoa salad. Of all the amazing food on the buffet, I just had to have an extra helping of that quinoa salad with citrus dressing! Between autographs and pictures with our friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, my husband and I kept saying how good it was! My kids even liked it!
I wish I had taken a picture of my plate. When I got home, I totally wanted to make that salad! But I’d enjoyed so many awesome foods that I couldn’t remember exactly what was in it. I was so sad.
But I was determined! About a week later, I emailed Disney and asked for the recipe. They ever-so-kindly sent me a recipe for the quinoa salad that’s usually on the menu, but it wasn’t at all the same as the one I’d had. Shelley thought maybe it was a chef’s special the day I was there. She might be right. I thought I might never find it.
I’d almost given up hope. But then I was watching The Chew while running on the treadmill (since that’s about the only time I get to watch 30 minutes of uninterrupted television!) and – BOOM! – there was a segment about quinoa salad! It was quite different from what I’d had at Disney, but it got my wheels turning!
I was super inspired. I went home and started cooking quinoa … lots and lots of quinoa. (Not sure how to cook quinoa? Check out our tutorial!) My family happily tried several batches (and so did Shelley’s!) as I perfected just the right balance of flavors.
The sweet orange juice and the tart lemon, the creamy feta and crunchy carrots, all combined with the nutty quinoa … mmmmm! A dash of salt makes this totally pop – and it’s so incredibly good. (Pssssst … wanna learn the best way to zest a lemon? It’s all in our post on zesting and grating!)
I’m happy (and satisfied and full of protein and fiber!) to have this for lunch, dinner, or a side salad. And I do. Often.
It’s quick, easy, loaded with nutrition and full of vibrant flavor. It tastes great the moment it’s made (I can’t help but dig right in!), but it’s also a lifesaver as a make-ahead you can throw together a day or so before a potluck or picnic.
I sure do miss you, Mickey … but we’ll be back soon!
We’d Love to Hear From You!
Ok – if you’ve ever been to Disney, then you’ve definitely splurge-purchased a crazy souvenir! Come on – fess up! Was it an enormous Goofy hat? Light-up Mickey ears? Maybe a life-sized Minnie Mouse? (Ummmmm … ok … in the spirit of fessing up: I can tell you that my littlest just HAD to have a ginormous stuffed animal. Yep – we almost needed an extra plane ticket!).
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Love Quinoa as Much as We Do? You’ve Gotta Try:
- Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil
- Chicken Fajita Quinoa Bake (No Pre-Cooking!)
- Mediterranean Confetti Quinoa Salad
- Corn, Edamame and Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette
- Kale Chopped Salad with Berries and Freekeh (or Quinoa)
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
- 1 cup matchstick or shredded carrots
- 1 cup chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- 1 cup pulp-free orange juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon (to equal approximately 1 tablespoon)
- 1 cup reduced-fat feta cheese
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Prepare quinoa according to package directions. After cooking, allow to cool completely and fluff with a fork.
- In a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, chickpeas, carrots, parsley, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, feta, salt and pepper. Eat immediately or refrigerate until serving.
- If refrigerated overnight, taste and adjust seasoning again before serving if needed. (The right amount of salt takes this salad from good to great!)