BLACK QUINOA W/ FETA, AVOCADO + MINT
This dish is fresh and simple; it contains little more than black quinoa, avocado, mint, and a high-quality sheep's milk feta.
Quinoa has a savory, earthy quality that makes it a great backdrop for vegetables and herbs of all kinds. It’s also a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine of the essential amino acids. It’s easy on the digestive system, and calorically moderate. It’s fast to make. It's versatile. It’s a safe choice, and it’s a smart choice.
I typically gravitate towards black quinoa, mainly because I love the deep contrast it creates when set against colorful vegetables. It’s also a bit crunchier, sweeter, and earthier than golden quinoa.
Whole grains like quinoa are practically screaming for fat and acid to round them out; feta works well with this dish because of its paradoxically rich and acidic nature. Avocado and mint also play a part in this department, lending an extra layer of healthy fat and vibrancy.
I go with a high-quality feta because, well, it's better. A good feta has solidity, tang, and herbal undertones. It's extremely bright in both color and flavor. It's not rubbery, chalky, tasteless, sour, or extremely crumbly.
The best way to find a feta (or any cheese) that you love? Don’t listen to me, find a good cheesemonger. Chat and taste until you find something that knocks your socks off. Then make this recipe and dig in.
½ cup black quinoa
1 cup water
1 avocado, sliced
½ cup mint leaves, torn
1 hunk of feta, crumbled
1 ½ T lemon juice
1 ½ T olive oil
1 splash of apple cider vinegar
1-3 pinches of cayenne, depending on your spice quota
salt + pepper to taste
In a medium-sized sauce pot, combine the quinoa and water, plus a solid pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, turn down to a very gentle simmer; it should barely be simmering. Cover and let cook, occasionally lifting the lid to stir the quinoa.
While the quinoa is cooking, slice the avocado. I like to do this by halving the avocado, pitting it, halving it again, and then removing the peel. According to your own preference, you may then make long, short, thick, or thin slices.
Next, pick the mint and crumble a decent-sized hunk of feta.
Once the quinoa is tender and the cooking liquid has evaporated (usually just under 20 minutes), fluff with a fork.
Move the quinoa to a large mixing bowl. Add most of the avocado, feta, and mint, leaving a small portion of each for garnish. Add all of the lemon juice and olive oil.
Add sea salt, turn your pepper mill over the bowl at least a few times, and - if you like heat - throw a few pinches of cayenne in there, too. If you don’t, don’t. Regardless, do taste for chosen seasonings and adjust as needed.
Garnish with the remaining avocado, feta, and mint. I like to finish this with one more drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of cayenne for extra color, heat, and flavor, but that’s just me; finish it however you like, or simply be done and enjoy!