THE Quinoa Salad

We’ve only ever referenced this salad as THE Quinoa Salad. This recipe, or some variation of, has been in the family since quinoa first made its way onto store shelves – AND it continues to be a hit with family & friends since. We started out by first mixing it with (a whole) cucumber, green onions, cilantro, feta and of course, my pop’s delicious garlicky/limey ‘slurry’ used as a base for many of our salad dressings. Later, we added other tasty additions including avocados, bell peppers + cherry tomatoes. Yum.

I once took this salad to an overnight gathering (potluck), which was meant to be part of a picnic the next day. However, we awoke to find that a few of the ‘guests’ had pillaged through the fridge during the wee hours and ate the ENTIRE bowl – we had double batched it too. We let it go without much fret as they raved about the salad, even asking for more. These guests?!…teenagers…asking for more. Alright, NOW we knew that we had something special.

Feta ‘Cheese’ – this feta recipe was inspired by Black Sheep Vegan Cheeze. It’s deliciously creamy. If you’re able, GO buy some asap! Our local health grocer ran out of vegan cheese, so I had to resort to making my own. I find that many vegan feta cheese recipes are very similar. It really comes down to your preference of texture (tofu) and flavour (herbs+spices).

When it comes to texture, I’ve used medium, firm, and extra firm tofu in cheese recipes. For this recipe, I would recommend either medium-firm or firm tofu. I also found that some artisan extra firm tofus are actually softer than commercial extra firm tofu brands, so just know what you like and go with that. Aside from the type of tofu, you’ll want to use a high speed blender to achieve a smooth finished product. *I like to use my Vitamix’s blending bowls – check out Amazon. They’re on the pricier side, but have been well worth it if making a lot of homemade sauces & cheese.

As for flavour, onion powder & salt are the most common ingredients (along with apple cider vinegar, but I’ll get to that shortly). My only suggestion would be to start with about 1/2tsp-1tsp of onion powder per 350g of tofu and add more to taste. I found some recipes to be SO oniony that that was all I could taste. For salt, seeing as feta is known for its saltiness, I like to start with about 1tsp per 350g of tofu and go from there. I usually think about what recipe(s) I’ll be using the ‘feta’ in and what other additions might have high salt content.

Ok, apple cider vinegar…it adds the sharpness that is SO familiar with good cheeses (and apparently helps ‘ripen’ it too). There are varying amounts for various recipe. Since I use feta with foods and/or recipes that are already quite acidic, I like to err on the side of less rather than more. Again, don’t be afraid to give your feta a taste along the way and add more if needed (always start with less:).

If you like this quinoa salad, you’ll likely LOVE this version of MexiSalad too!! It’s another one of our classics + faves<3

Feta Cheese *Dairy Free
Prep Time
5 mins
Resting Time
3 hrs
Total Time
5 mins
 
Course: cheese
Cuisine: *plant based + organic
Keyword: cheese, dairy free, feta
Servings: 350 g
Author: thecrimsonsink
Ingredients
  • 350 g medium-firm or firm organic tofu – pressed & cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup refined coconut oil, melted
  • 2&1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2-1 tsp onion powder
  • 1&1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients into a high speed blender. Blend on varying speeds until smooth – use a tamper if you have one. Stop to scrape down side as needed.

  2. Transfer the feta mixture to a sterilized airtight container, pressing the mixture firmly down and placing on the lid.

  3. Refrigerate 3-6hrs, or until cool – the oil needs time to set. Best when used within 7-9days.
  4. Use a fork or your fingers to crumble over salads, pastas, and other dishes.
Recipe Notes

~ If you have a Vitamix + blending bowls, use one. I find they achieve the smoothest textured cheese for this recipe. With this method, more liquid may be needed to get things moving once blending. Start off with 250g of tofu and all other ingredients remaining the same. If running smooth, add little by little more tofu up to the recommended 350g, or to preference of taste and texture. 

THE Quinoa Salad
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

Easy, fresh + full of veg, family favourite quinoa salad recipe that’s been kicking around for YEARS. This quinoa salad gets the taste buds revved & seems to always disappear during luncheons and potlucks – it has gained some serious fans! 

Course: appetizer, side dish, main
Cuisine: *gluten free + plant based
Keyword: quinoa, salad, feta, cucumber
Servings: 8
Author: thecrimsonsink
Ingredients
THE Quinoa Salad
  • 1&1/2 cups quinoa *dry
  • 2&1/4cups water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 whole english cucumber – peeled & seeded
  • 1 398 ml can organic black beans – rinsed & dried
  • 1 orange bell pepper – cored & finely chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro – washed & roughly chopped
  • 1-2 ripe avocados
Dressing
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 6 tbsp grapeseed or olive oil
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1&1/2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 3/4-1 tsp sea salt – to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
Instructions
Dressing
  1. Add all of the ingredients, but the oil, to a small bowl or container. Pulse a couple times with a handheld blender, and then slowly drizzle in the oil while blending on high – the dressing will thicken. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
THE Quinoa Salad
  1. The quinoa…you can cook as per package instructions, but here’s how I do mine just in case – add the water to a pot, place over med. heat, and bring to a gentle boil. Add the sea salt and stir. Next, add the dry quinoa. Stir, bring back up to a gentle boil, place the lid on, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15mins without removing the lid.

  2. After 15mins (the water should be all absorbed), turn off the heat, remove the lid, and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Place the lid back on and allow the quinoa to rest for 5mins. *To cool off the quinoa once cooked, I usually line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the quinoa onto the sheet, spreading it out. Place in the fridge until cool.

  3. The cucumber…for this recipe, I cut out the centre core (seeds) of the cucumber as it will prevent your salad from becoming soupy as the cucumber tends to release water overtime.
  4. Once cored/seeded, I finely chop the cucumber into small pieces – peel, cut in half (width wise), then cut in half again (length wise), cut V down centre to remove seeds, and then cut very thin strips length wise, and finally chopping. *I’m putting emphasis on how we prepare the cucumber as people seem to love how well it blends into the salad, especially considering there’s a WHOLE lot of it.

  5. Add all of the prepared veggies (except avocado), cilantro, and black beans to a large bowl. Add the cool quinoa.

  6. Pour over the dressing and gently toss to coat. Top with sliced avocado and crumbled feta. Add any sea salt + pepper to taste. 

  7. Store any leftovers in the fridge. Best when eaten within 2-3days.

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