Star-spangled quinoa salad

Happy belated independence day to you, dear blog reader! I took a brief hiatus from blogging, my real job, and my outside jobs to enjoy the fourth — and the heat — east of the mountains, at my family’s cabin near Vantage.

On the shores of the Columbia

On the shores of the Columbia

We played in the pool, we wine tasted, we did some work around the cabin, and we participated in the community celebrations. Brandon ran the community 5K — he got 24th overall! — and I decided at the last minute to enter the cooking contest.

Spoiler alert: I won!

Sunland Estates Best Salad winner 2015: ME!

Sunland Estates Best Salad 2015 winner: ME!

The cooking contest consisted of several categories:

  • Best burger
  • Best salad
  • Best ribs
  • Best chili
  • Best dessert
  • Best cocktail and costume

I made a quinoa salad with mint, watermelon, feta, and blueberries, in a lime vinaigrette. (Recipe below!) The initial recipe came from our cookbook of the week, Simply Ancient Grains, but I made many changes, including swapping the couscous for quinoa, making it gluten-free. I also added the blueberries for the red, white, and blue-ness of the salad, for ‘Merica. Brandon helped me re-name it, dubbing it “Star-spangled quinoa salad.”

Patriotic watermelons

Patriotic watermelons

There were seven judges, so I plated seven samples of the salad. Dishes were judged on presentation, so I added some fourth of July flair, including watermelon stars and decorative elements on this plate itself.

Star Spangled Quinoa Salad

Star Spangled Quinoa Salad

Star-spangled deliciousness!

Star-spangled deliciousness!

The salad turned out deliciously and there was plenty leftover for us to enjoy it with our burgers and corn-on-the-cob from the grill.

Decked out and ready to go!

Decked out and ready to go!

Our fourth of July feast

Our fourth of July feast

Star Spangled Quinoa Salad (adapted from Simply Ancient Grains) Serves 6-10, depending on serving size

  • 1 c quinoa (this can be altered as you see fit), appropriate amount of water to cook it with
  • 2-3 limes, to be zested and juiced (a couple of tablespoons of bottled lime juice works as well)
  • 2 T olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 T honey
  • 1.5 c seedless watermelon, I used about 1/3 of a small watermelon
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1/2 c crumbled feta
  • 1/2 c mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the quinoa per the instructions, typically 1/2 c of quinoa with 1 c of water (I like to add a swirl of olive oil and some salt and pepper to the pot as it’s boiling)
  2. Make dressing: Combine oil, honey, lime juice and zest with salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare additional ingredients:
  4. Cut watermelon into little chunks (or stars, if applicable)
  5. Chiffonade (cut into small strips) the mint leaves
  6. Wash blueberries
  7. Crumble feta
  8. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve!
  9. Add additional salt and pepper as needed. Be careful: feta is salty and too much additional salt may overpower your salad!
  10. Salad can be served warm or cold.
  11. Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “Star-spangled quinoa salad

  1. Pingback: 50 days to go! | Megan's Island

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