Cucumber Mint Quinoa Salad
Are you a gardener? What kind of cucumbers do you grow? I used to grow lemon cucumbers, but gave up because they got too big and seedy. These days I’m growing Persian cucumbers, which are beautifully thin skinned, with delicate seeds. I usually pick them when they are still on the small side, but even when they grow as big as regular cucumbers, they’re still not at all bitter.
The cucumbers are just now coming in, which means every day I have a small harvest that needs to used (or given away to lucky neighbors). This recipe is inspired by a quinoa cucumber salad I had while visiting my fellow gardener food bloggers Diane and Todd of White on Rice Couple. It’s wonderfully simple, just cooked red quinoa tossed with chopped fresh cucumbers and mint, and dressed with seasoned rice vinegar. You can also add a chopped avocado to the salad if you want it to be a little more substantial.
By the way, quinoa looks and acts like a grain, but it’s actually a seed, and therefore higher in protein and lower in starch than most grains.
If you don't have seasoned rice vinegar, just add a little honey or sugar and some salt and pepper to regular rice vinegar until you get the balance of sweet and sour you like.
- 1 cup quinoa (we prefer red quinoa)
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 large cucumber, peeled if thick-skinned, unpeeled if thin-skinned (about 3/4 pound cucumber)
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint
- 1 Tbsp thinly sliced green onion or chopped chives
- 3-4 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 avocado, peeled and chopped (optional)
1 Check your package of quinoa. If it says to rinse it, then rinse it. If not, then skip. Place the quinoa in a 1 1/2 to 2 quart sized saucepan. Add the water. Add half a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, until the quinoa is cooked. Remove from heat.
2 Let the cooked quinoa cool to room temperature. You can help cool down the quinoa quickly by spreading it out on a sheet pan.
3 Cut the cucumber in half in the middle. Then cut each half lengthwise into quarters. Scoop out most of the seeds and discard. Cut the cucumber pieces again, this time crosswise in 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick slices.
4 When the quinoa has cooled, place it in a large bowl and gently with the cucumber chunks, the mint, and green onion. Sprinkle with seasoned rice vinegar and toss again. Sprinkle with olive oil and gently toss. Add more salt or seasoned rice vinegar to taste. Gently fold in chopped avocado if using.