about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

    Contact Emily

    For general inquires, contact: EmilyBMalone@gmail.com.

    For partnerships, contact: dailygarnishads@mediakix.com.

    Looking forward to chatting with you!


    What’s Cooking?

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    A Look Back.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.

Each week I get at least a handful of comments or emails from people wanting vegetarian meal ideas.  So many people seem to be interested in going meatless or at least reducing their meat intake, but don’t quite know where to start.  Once the veggie burgers, canned beans, and faux meats get old – where do you go from there?

I’m always amazed that people think vegetarian diets are so limiting.  It is easy to focus on what you can’t eat, but it’s so much more productive to think about all the wonderful things that you most definitely can eat!

The biggest concern that is repeated in email after email seems to be protein intake.  My first response is usually this – I think as Americans we generally vastly over-estimate the amount of protein the body actually needs in one day.  In fact, the body can only physically process so much protein at one time, and beyond that the excess is just converted to waste. 

But of course protein IS necessary, and if you are willing to think beyond the usual suspects, you can find that vegetarian sources are actually pretty easy to find.  A personal favorite in our house – quinoa.  And when summer rolls around and we are looking for light ways to incorporate protein into dinnertime, simple and refreshing grain salads are my absolute favorite.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

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(Print this recipe!)

Ingredients: (makes 4 entrée servings)

  • 1.5 cups dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (other other cooking oil)
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup olives, minced
  • 1/2 cup basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • goat or feta cheese crumbles (optional)

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Instructions:  This was one of those fun summer dishes that came together as I was making it, based on what was fresh in my kitchen.  It is incredibly simple, but packed with delicious Mediterranean flavor and tangy lemon juice. 

  1. Rinse quinoa and add 3 cups of water to either a rice cooker or sauce pan on a stovetop.  Cook for 25 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.
  2. Dice the cucumber, tomatoes, olives, and basil, and add to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Once the quinoa is cooked, fluff and add to the bowl of vegetables.
  4. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, and sea salt and pour dressing over quinoa mixture. 
  5. Let flavors marinate for 5-10 minutes before serving.  Top with goat cheese or feta crumbles for garnish!

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Grain salad are my absolute favorite thing to make in the summer.  Served warm or cold, they are perfect for serving at dinner or storing in the fridge when you need a meal in a hurry.

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This Mediterranean salad has the saltiness of olives and acidity of lemon juice that my pregnant palate absolutely loves right now. 

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As always, enjoy!

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70 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life)     at 4:38 pm

I have almost the identical recipe on my blog. :)

I just can’t get enough of those Greek flavors! YUM!


Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin     at 4:39 pm

I love making grain salads in the summer too. This version looks great – love the idea of olives and feta. Yum!


Melissa @ HerGreenLife     at 4:40 pm

You hit the nail right on the head about people’s confused perceptions about protein intake. If you’re eating a health, varied vegetarian diet, it’s just not that hard.


Melissa @ HerGreenLife Reply:

I think my midwives (who are really pretty open-minded) were slightly worried until I brought in a record of the food I ate in an average day.

I was easily getting at least 70 grams of protein, so right on track for pregnancy. (Note: 70g/day is probably excessive if you’re not pregnant, unless perhaps you’re a very high caliber athlete.)


Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet     at 4:40 pm

I totally agree on Americans way overestimating the amount of protein necessary. And especially when protein can be found in unexpected places like quinoa and feta cheese :)


Paige     at 4:41 pm

Ooh, I think I have almost all of these ingredients at home right now. I can’t wait to make this!


Stefanie     at 4:43 pm

Wow, that looks good. I may have to try that. :)


Heather     at 4:44 pm

I love quinoa and last time I made it, I cooked it in the rice cooker!

Such a refreshing and simple meal for the summer – so versatile. It tastes good with almost anything.


Amber K     at 4:54 pm

Having to cut out gluten was hard for this vegetarian, as a good chunk of my protein was coming from whole wheat. But all I’ve had to do is discover new whole grain options. Gotta love gluten-free oats, quinoa, and brown rice.

I also get protein from dairy like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt. And people forget that veggies have protein too! Ok, so not as much as meat, but it all adds up.

This recipe looks delicious!


ali     at 4:54 pm

I can’t wait to try this. But I do have a silly question (since quinoa is a new discovery for me) would this be good with red quinoa? (that’s what I currently have at home). I’m just not sure of the differences between the varieties.


Emily Malone Reply:

Sorry for the late reply! Would be great with red quinoa!


Lindsey     at 4:55 pm

I love quinoa! It has almost replaced rice in our house. So versatile and filling. I have a favorite salad with avocado, cilantro, black beans in a honey-lime dressing and like to make it in bulk for quick suppers and lunches over a 2-3 period.

I am going to have to try this quinoa salad too now!


Erin Reply:

That salad sounds delicious, too, Lindsey! I’m going to have to give it a try.


Erin     at 4:55 pm

Oh MAN does that look good! I just can’t get enough of these types of salads–especially (but not exclusively) during summer. Of course, I JUST made a huge batch of my favorite lentil salad* today, so we don’t really NEED another cold grain- or legume-based salad in the fridge…but I’ll definitely put this on the list for next week!

(My husband, Andrew, is working/going to class from 5-9pm Monday through Thursday this month, so having ready-made salads in the fridge are a lifesaver. He can just package some up and take it with him to class/work! Easy-peasy!)

*Lentil Salad: cooked lentils, sliced grapes, green onion, red bell pepper, cucumber. Toss with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. DELICIOUS!


Erica     at 5:04 pm

I make something almost exactly like this except I add in chickpeas for extra bulk! Yum :)


Katie     at 5:11 pm

Mmmm that looks delicious! I just discovered quinoa a few months ago and it quickly became a favorite! It’s so easy, versatile and delicious! Yum. I will definitely be trying this recipe! :)


Marci     at 5:22 pm

I love quinoa bowls, so easy to use what’s in your fridge or pantry and try different flavors. I agree that vegetarian food is very free-ing and not limiting. I try to tell my husband this all the time. It’s more of an educational process of changing your thinking and learning to cook new foods.


Gina @ Running to the Kitchen     at 5:31 pm

I’ve seen (and posted) so many good looking quinoa dishes lately. This one is up there too! I love the addition of feta.


joanna     at 5:41 pm

The guy and I are vegetarians as well, but my stomach HATES quinoa and will not digest it. (TMI from a random lurker? probably…) BOO. I’m still trying to find alternatives, but it’s hard…


Susan     at 5:45 pm

I was at Whole Foods today looking at quinoa — I didn’t know which variety is best to buy. Help! Your salad looks delicious and I’m going to try it once I figure out the quinoa!!


Erin @ Naturally Addicted     at 5:46 pm

So yummy… quinoa is by far my favorite grain! This salad looks fantastic especially with the olives!!


Emily @ Comfortable Home Life     at 6:14 pm

I LOVE when people ask where I get my protein as a vegetarian. I get to educate them on all the different foods that contain lots of protein! I’ve introduced several of my friends to quinoa and I think they’re hooked!


rofomom     at 6:56 pm

This is totally something I would eat. I love feta. It makes everything beta :)


@HilaryFleming www.healthgirltv.com     at 7:00 pm

This looks delish! I am a total quinoa whore myself. feta looks like the perfect addition to the salad.

Also, FYI–I have you in my reader and everytime I click from my reader to try to come to your site it won’t load. I have to re-type your addy to get in. Could be my computer but might be a prob w feedburner.


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga     at 7:18 pm

your salad looks great and clearly quinoa salads are “going around”…in 24 hours you are the SEVENTH blog I have seen one on.

I started counting yesterday for fun after seeing 4 in 20 minutes :)


Krystina (Organically Me)     at 7:44 pm

Honestly, I think my diet opened up ten fold and became way more creative once I stopped eating meat.


Avery     at 7:49 pm

I was just thinking about this today! Ever since I gave up meat last August, I feel like people are constantly questioning my decision. Often I feel like SUCH an inconvenience anytime I attend a cookout or eat dinner with friends. I wish I could get everyone to understand that I am not limited by any means. And that there are so many good meals and recipes that don’t need meat!

Alright, rant over ;) This quinoa salad looks awesome by the way!


Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}     at 8:10 pm

This salad looks delicious. For me, it looks like a perfect dinner. My husband, unfortunately, would label this a “great side dish”.


chelsey @ clean eating chelsey     at 8:13 pm

I love quinoa dishes in the summer time – this one sounds so fresh!


jen @ taste life     at 8:51 pm

Everything you make looks so fresh and delicious, yum. And so right about Americans and protein! Non-veg people always, always ask me where I get my protein!


Lauren     at 8:55 pm

I feel like I have been adding quinoa to all of my salads these days. It just makes the salad.


Kristin @ eat healthy. be happy. live well.     at 9:20 pm

Yum! I love quinoa salads as well. Very light and easy to just throw in whatever you’ve got. Since I’m not a vegetarian, my favorite thing to add is chicken!


Stephanie     at 9:59 pm

I just found your blog and LOVE it!! I’ve been reading all different posts and they are great! I’m training for my first half marathon right now so your running posts have been very helpful!


Jackie @ That Deep Breath     at 10:02 pm

That salad looks great! I would definitely crumble some feta cheese in there. I agree, it’s amazing how many people think being a vegetarian would be impossible but it’s not at all! If most people thought about the meals they’ve had in the past week probably over half would already be vegetarian with no effort.


sarah (shorty)     at 10:19 pm

I have your rice cooker, what setting do you put it on to cook the quinoa? I am going to have to try this ASAP!haha


Emily Malone Reply:

Quick cooking!


Victoria     at 10:48 pm

Love your blog and all of your recipes! :)


MegaNerd     at 11:11 pm

Lovin’ all these quinoa recipes lately! I made something so similar for lunch today: quinoa, black beans, feta, grape tomatoes, lemon/evoo, salt, pepper, garlic poweder all on top of a bed of spinach! YUMM!


Lauren     at 11:39 pm

Mmmmm…I love quinoa, especially with mediterranean flavors. I am currently pregnant and one thing that has helped me get all my protein in is incorporating more greek yogurt into my diet. I think one cup has almost 23g of protein which is awesome! I usually do overnight oats with greek yogurt and then have a snack mid morning with more greek yogurt, fresh/frozen fruit, and agave. I also love smoothies made with skim milk, greek yogurt and frozen fruit.


Sheena     at 11:50 pm

That salad looks great! I read somewhere that the poor economy is encouraging many people to start eating more vegetarian meals at home as meat can get quite expensive. I love that your blog features so many delicious vegetarian recipes that are EASY PEASY to prepare.

Also I must say that you glow more and more each day that your pregnancy progresses. You looked absolutely gorgeous in that blue dress you wore to your husband’s work dinner! One thing that I am curious about, and you totally don’t have to answer if it is too personal, but are you planning to raise your child/children vegetarian? I think it would make for a very interesting blog post someday :)


Emily Malone Reply:

Sorry for the late reply! Yes we are, at least until they are old enough to decide that for themselves.


Namaste Gurl     at 1:11 am

I loveeeee quinoa- especially the 4 lb bag I just got from costco! This recipe couldn’t be more timely :) My favorite way to enjoy quinoa is with rosemary, olive oil and nutritional yeast!


Cait @ Beyond Bananas     at 2:44 am

I am always looking for new ways to eat my Quinoa!! This looks like a fabulous recipe, Emily!


Hayley @ Oat Couture     at 2:52 am

I can’t believe I lived without quinoa for so long! Love the stuff now! :) Thanks for sharing another great way to eat it!


Kie     at 6:15 am

That looks delicious! Check out my Chinese hot pot post at http://hongkongintern.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/hot-pot/


Maryann     at 10:05 am

That’s me stuck in a rut. Bean burgers, stuffed peppers, chili, salads. Hubby is really tired of it. We’ve been doing it for a year. Plus we do not have many vegan places to eat. Actually none close to us. So I will make this this weekend. See what he thinks. He always like something he can warm up. Send us more. Please.
Lancaster County Pa Gal


Beth @ DiningAndDishing     at 10:19 am

I am on SUCH a quinoa salad kick for lunches right now. I love to make something Sunday night to pack all week. Delicious, easy and keeps me satisfied all day. This is definitely one to add to my list of to-trys!


Rachel @ The Avid Appetite     at 10:24 am

Gorgeous salad! I can’t wait to make a big batch of this to have for lunches next week :) Thanks for sharing!


Kristen @ Chocolate Covered Kristen     at 10:28 am

Actually, I think that I get more protein now than I did when I ate meat. I used to never worry about it, even on days where I didn’t eat and meat or only had one serving, but once I gave it up I started being more concious of the macronutrients in my food.


Jordan P @ food, sweat, and beers     at 11:25 am

Looks so delicious, I’d love to make this for a potluck! Especially for my friends who believe that meat is the only thing that should be eaten all summer!!


Tiff @ Love, Sweat, and Beers     at 11:37 am

My husband made something similar for lunch this week. He said he loved it, and I was a little jealous. :) Mediterranean = Yum


Divya @ Saved By The BEHL     at 12:00 pm

First I just have to say you are such an amazing chef! I dont eat meat a couple of days out of the week and something will be perfect!


Lindsay@ In Sweetness and In Health     at 12:06 pm

Oh my gosh that looks amazing! I’m not vegetarian but I think I may have to make that :). I’m new to blogging and just found yours- it’s awesome!


Rebecca     at 12:09 pm

What could you serve this with to make a meal?


Emily Malone Reply:

We ate ours AS a meal, but it would also be good with other Mediterranean inspired food – falafels, pitas, dips, grape leaves, mmmm.


Julia     at 12:49 pm

yes, this def looks like something i’d love to make!


LauraJayne     at 1:53 pm

This recipe looks delicious – I’m trying to branch out of my brown rice addiction!

I totally agree about people always being concerned about a vegetarian diet and protein! If anything, we get too much protein – and every time I’ve had my diet analyzed, I always need more fat or good carbs – never protein!


Katherine     at 2:22 pm

I have got to try this!


Faith     at 6:45 pm

I don’t know if someone has already mentioned this to you, but there is this crazy, hilarious nude bike ride at the end of each June in Fremont. My friend and I were visiting in Seattle a few years ago and just happen to see this wild event.


Lisa @ Fit in the Midwest     at 9:56 pm

This recipe reminds me a lot of my favorite way to enjoy quinoa. I just ended up throwing in similar ingredients one day and it all went together so well! I’ll try your recipe next time and see if I like it better.


Karen     at 10:09 pm

I made this today but I didn’t know what to do with the coconut oil so I left it out. Does anyone know when and where to add it? I also added some chopped yellow bell pepper since I had it, it added a great crunch to the salsd and looked good too!


Emily Malone Reply:

Sorry for the late reply! The coconut oil is added to the quinoa when cooking – sorry!!


Michelle     at 10:10 pm

My fiancé and I made this recipe tonight and it was amazing! It’s definitely something I’ll make again. Keep the delicious recipes coming, Emily! :)


Karolina     at 12:44 am

Oh my gosh this looks absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing. I will definitely try to make this in the next week or two:)


Marianne Lockwood     at 5:45 pm

Hi Emily – Another hit! My husband and I loved this salad. He had bought a cranberry orange goat cheese log the other day, and that was the perfect addition. We had some beautiful Sungold cherry tomatoes from the farm down the street as well – out of this world! Thanks for a great recipe!



Emily Malone Reply:

Glad to hear it!


Joe @ The Frolicking Fells     at 1:07 am

My wife has made this dish several times and I have loved it each and every time. She once made it with fresh basil from the farmer’s market up the street and it was phenomenal. Tonight, she made it for her parents and siblings and their significant others, and everyone loved it! I had to restrain myself from taking too much because I wanted other people to try it…come to think of it, I’m getting hungry for a late-night snack now…wonder if there are any leftovers?


Cathy     at 12:48 pm

We are having a “parade of salads” at work tomorrow. THIS is what I’m going to bring. I always like to bring something a little bit different to expand peoples’ horizons. I’m sure I’ll get LOTS of compliments!


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