3/4 cup quinoa
11/2 cups water
1 pinch salt (for quinoa cooking water)
1 cup cherry tomatoes (chopped, let them drain in a colander if the tomatoes are juicy)
1/2 cup chopped parsley (I used curly parsley, but either kind will work)
1/2 cup cucumber (chopped, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, peel the cucumber if it has a thick skin, or peel in strips like I did, and scrape out seeds if they are large)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (use an olive oil with good flavor)
3 tbsps lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (finely)
Put quinoa into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse well with cold water until no more foam appears. (You can use a paper towel inside a regular strainer if you don’t have one that’s fine enough. Check the package to see if your quinoa needs to be rinsed.)
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add pinch of salt, stir in quinoa, reduce heat to the barest simmer and cook 12-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Cover the quinoa and let it sit for 5 minutes more. (Check quinoa package for cooking directions because the two different brands I’ve used had different directions, You can also cook quinoa in a rice cooker if you prefer.)
While quinoa cooks, chop cherry tomatoes into small pieces. If the tomatoes are very juicy, let them drain in the same colander you used for the quinoa.
After it sits for 5 minutes, put the cooked quinoa into the bowl you’re using for the salad and let it cool to room temperature for 20-30 minutes. While quinoa cools, peel the cucumbers, scrape out seeds if they are large, then chop cucumbers into 1/2 inch pieces. (Unless your cucumbers have a very thick skin, it looks nice to peel them in strips like I did so there’s some green showing.) Wash the parsley, spin dry or dry with paper towels, then finely chop until you have 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Whisk together the olive oil, fresh lemon juice, ground cumin, pinch of cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. salt to make the dressing.
When quinoa is cooled to room temperature, stir in the cucumber, drained tomatoes, and parsley, then add just enough dressing to moisten the salad, about 4-5 T of the prepared dressing (you will use some of the reserved dressing later.) Cover the salad, refrigerate, and let flavors blend for 30 minutes or as long as a few hours if you’re making this ahead.
When you’re ready to serve the salad, remove from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature while you wash mint, spin dry or dry with paper towels, and finely chop to make 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped mint. (I love mint, but it’s a strong flavor so if you’re not sure how much you like it, I’d use the smaller amount.) Stir in chopped mint, then taste the salad and add more of the reserved dressing until the flavor tastes fresh (you may not need all the dressing.) Season with a little more salt if desired, and serve.