While most whole grains take up to an hour to cook, quinoa can be simmered to tenderness in about 15 minutes. You’ll want to be careful with it though — add too much water and it’ll turn out mushy. Cook it too long and, again, it’ll turn out mushy. I prefer a water-to-quinoa ratio of almost 2-to-1 for a just-tender grain that’s firm enough to hold up to salad dressing.
For the vegetable component, I like to combine red bell peppers and enough chopped parsley to add pronounced flavor and color. While the quinoa cooks, cook half of the bell peppers in a generous glug of olive oil until their skins start to blister and blacken — you’ll get the lightly charred sweetness of roasted red peppers without the super-soft texture. Keep the remaining peppers raw for crunch. Mix these in with the parsley, briny feta cheese, and a large lemon’s worth of zest and half of its juice. Let it sit and quickly marinate while the quinoa finishes cooking.