Our friend Holley, The Southern Belle in Santa Barbara, brought the most delicious quinoa salad to our picnic on Sunday. It was loaded with flavor and color and makes you feel like you’re at a fabulous seaside restaurant in the Mediterranean. I had it for lunch AND dinner yesterday. If you’ve never made quinoa before, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how great it is. And the fact that it has very high protein content for a grain makes it even better, especially if you’re trying to watch your carbs.

Greek-Style Quinoa with Grilled Shrimp

adapted from Fitness magazine

1 lb shrimp, shelled and cleaned
6 Tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup Kalamata olives, halved or quartered
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
4 oz feta, crumbled
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

Place shrimp, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/4 tsp salt and pepper in a bowl.
Bring 2 cups water to a bowl in a 2 qt pot and add quinoa. Return to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook quinoa, covered, for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining clove garlic, shallots and bell pepper. Saute until soft, approximately 5 – 7 minutes. Remove and place in a large bowl.
Add tomatoes, cut side up, in the same skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until starting to char. Add them to the large bowl, along with chopped olives, feta, mint and parsley. Mix in quinoa.
Heat a grill pan on high heat and then add shrimp (without marinade). Cook 2 minutes on one side or until shrimp is starting to get opaque and then flip. Cook additional minute and remove from heat. Add to the quinoa mix. You may want to cut shrimp in half before adding.
Drizzle with remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil and lemon juice. Can be served warm, cold or at room temperature. Keeps in the refrigerator for several days. Yields: 6 servings.