I’m a sucker for a picnic. The idea of packing up home-made goodies and taking them somewhere special, somewhere secret, somewhere other than the kitchen table to consume them is just so…tantalizing. Whether it’s in a park, on a mountainside, by the ocean, or in the underground parking garage at UCLA, the romance and fun-factor of a picnic is hard to beat. In fact, that’s precisely where we ate the salad below as the main course of a pre-show supper (all ingredients were purchased at Trader Joe’s). The dance concert we’d come to see was starting in about an hour, so in the front seat (actually the only seat) of my partner’s ’93 Mazda pick-up, we enjoyed the salad below with sliced cantaloupe, strawberries, and a bottle of Proseco. Delightful. And wouldn’t you know, about half way through our splendid little supper we spotted Jamie Lee Curtis walking through the parking garage on her way to the concert. That’s just the kind of thing that happens when you’re on a picnic—like some sort of mystical picnic magic (unfortunately ants and yellow jackets are immune to any such spell). But did I mention that we saw Jamie Lee Curtis?
You may also want to try the Curried Rice & Shrimp Salad and White Bean & Barley Chili.
Quinoa, Bean, and Feta Salad
- 2 cups water or chicken stock
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1 can white beans, rinsed and well drained
- ¾ cup feta cheese
- ½ cup Trader Joe’s Tuscan Vinaigrette
- Juice of ½ fresh lemon
- 2.25 oz. can sliced olives
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped chives
- ¼ cup roasted chopped pistachios or pine nuts
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 Tbls olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Putting it all together
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the quinoa and onion and stir frequently until the quinoa is slightly brown around the edges and the onion is soft. Add the water or chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Let it cool for about 15 minutes.
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stirring gently. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Garnish with lemon slices and fresh parsley or basil. Serve warm or cold (refrigerating for at least a few hours allows the flavors to mingle more thoroughly).
Serves 4 to 5