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Salad of Tender Greens with Toasted Quinoa, Feta, Kalamata Olive, Avocado and Organic Hard-Boiled Egg w/ Creamy Lemon Garlic and Oregano Dressing

By Heidi Allison

This “meal-in-a-bowl” is a refreshing change from the traditional Cobb or Chopped Salad and will be your new go-to for an easy brunch or dinner.

A great way to frontload your daily dose of greens, this versatile salad can be quickly assembled for busy weeknights or lazy weekends by prepping a few key items in advance, such as the toasted tri-color quinoa, hard-boiled eggs or Creamy Lemon Garlic and Oregano Dressing. To change it up, switch out the hard-boiled eggs as the protein hit for last night’s leftover grilled chicken.

The greens in this salad should be tender with a bit of icy crunch — romaine, with a hefty dose of flat-leaf Italian parsley, work well in this recipe. While parsley is traditionally used as a garnish to add a finishing touch to a dish, in this recipe the herb is re-purposed as the other “salad green”, in a 50 percent ratio, which ups its nutritional value, and lends a mild bitter hit to the finished dish— a nice counterpoint flavor to the creamy avocado, salty feta and briny kalamata olives.

Parsley has a unique flavor profile that is fresh, peppery, green and slightly woody with a kiss of citrus — it adds depth and dimension to a cold salad. This herb also contains enzymes that aid in digestion, and is rich in vitamins A, C and K. This neglected herb is a nutritional powerhouse that should be used more often as a salad’s foundation ingredient.

Gluten-free, packed with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and 6 grams of protein per serving, toasted quinoa is a healthier choice than croutons in a salad. While any quinoa will do, I recommend using the tri-color blend of red, black and white in this dish, since the mild, white cultivar is a bit too soft to stand up to a creamy dressing on its own. To enhance its nutty taste, the quinoa is first toasted in a bit of olive oil before adding the water during the cooking process. Chilling down the cooked quinoa in the fridge gives the finished product a lovely al dente chew…

Serves: 2 as a main; 4 as a side

Salad Ingredients:

Salad Ingredients

1 cup pre-rinsed, tri-color (red, black and white) quinoa (I prefer Ancient Harvest or Bob’s Red Mill)
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups filtered water
1 heart of organic romaine,1/3-inch julienne cut
1 bunch organic flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 radishes, thinly sliced into rounds
1/3 cup sliced and pitted kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled French or Bulgarian feta
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into quarters
1 avocado, peeled and cut into thin slices

Preparation:

Place 1 teaspoon olive oil into a 2-quart pot and heat on medium heat till hot. Add quinoa and toast till fragrance is omitted and lightly toasted — about 1 minute.

Place 1 teaspoon olive oil into a 2-quart pot and heat on medium heat till hot. Add quinoa and toast till fragrance is omitted and lightly toasted — about 1 minute. Add water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Immediately cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until white ring and tail around quinoa appears, and quinoa is soft yet with a slight “chew”—about 18 minutes. If quinoa is still a bit too chewy, cover and heat an additional 1-3 minutes. Turn off heat, gently fluff quinoa with a fork, and allow to cool. You should have about 2 cups quinoa. Place cooked quinoa into a covered a container and place in the fridge until ready to use.

Creamy Garlic Lemon and Oregano Dressing

Makes: 1½ cups

Ingredients for Creamy Garlic Lemon and Oregano Dressing

½ cup 2% buttermilk, chilled and well-shaken
1/3 cup good-quality mayo (Best Foods or Hellmans)
2 tablespoons labneh (can substitute sour cream)
1 large garlic, peeled and micro-planed, about ½ teaspoon
Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon kosher flake salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, (about 35 turns)
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano

Preparation:

Place all ingredients, except oregano, into a Ninja Bullet or blender and puree till combined. Fold in chopped oregano.

Place all ingredients, except oregano, into a Ninja Bullet or blender and puree till combined. Fold in chopped oregano.

Place dressing in the fridge several hours (best overnight) to allow flavors to develop and texture to thicken.

Salad Assembly:

Place lettuce and parsley in a large bowl and gently toss to combine. Per serving: Place 2 cups of salad greens on a chilled plate, and garnish with 2 tablespoons kalamata olives, 1/4 cup feta and 1 sliced radish per serving. Place one quartered egg on the perimeter of the plate.

In the center of assembled salad, place ½ cup of toasted quinoa and top with slices of avocado. Drizzle dressing over top and garnish with freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of salt. Serve with dressing on the side.
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