Mediterranean Quinoa Salad – 1st Runner Up!

Hello fellow food enthusiasts! Chef Richie here, at your culinary service.

This is the first blog in a monthly series, to discuss several recipe entries (not entrées) from our 2016 recipe contest that merit honorable mention. The first recipe in this series is…drumroll please…Chef Aleksu Hillerstrom’s Mediterranean Quinoa, Feta, Artichoke and Sun-Dried Tomato Salad…perfectly timed for the still hot days of summer. Chef Aleksu has followed some of the inside info I hint about below regarding how I look at recipe contest entries, and although this dish didn’t “make the podium”, it was under consideration and the entire taste panel liked it a lot.


  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1 cup hand-shredded baby kale or baby spinach
  • 1 cup thin slices of red onion
  • 1 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 1 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup thin slices of sweet red and yellow peppers
  • 1/2 cup Bella Sun Luci Sun DriedTomatoes, Julienne Cut
  • 1/4 cup artichoke marinade from the jar of hearts (vinegar, oil)
  • 1 tsp+ sun-dried tomato marinade (oil helps keep quinoa from clumping)

Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Refrigerate several hours. Let sit at room temperature 5 minutes before serving cold as light lunch or dinner, or side dish.

My blogs won’t always be this long, but I have a few things to explain, this being my first post-contest bloggery this year, so I hope you’ll make it through all of this and keep reading each month, my to-be-shorter works of literary “art” about actual culinary ART.

Ok everybody, let’s talk. Actually, because this blog is called, “Chef Richie Says”, I guess I’ll do the talking. BUT…feel free to e-mail me ( if you want to put in your two cents, or if you have any questions. You can also use your voice on the Bella Sun Luci Facebook page, where you can comment to your heart’s desire…where you’ll find cool cooking videos with Mediterranean flair and lots of info about our annual recipe contest. We’re already receiving entries for next year’s July 1st, 2017 submission deadline and if you don’t already know, first place gets…got…will get…$2,500! So now, I’m guessing, you have some homework to do.T

The contest rules are at

FYI, the company is Mooney Farms, the brand is Bella Sun Luci.

…and…Chef Richie Says: If you want my advice about how to submit your recipe, here’s your inside scoop…a reward for reading all of this and an affirmation for your being a chef: A. Use at least one, besides sun dried tomatoes, healthy ingredient. Lots of cream and nothing green, for example, is NOT a recipe for success around here; B) Use more than one Bella Sun Luci product in your recipe! In addition to sun dried tomatoes we produce local estate grown extra virgin olive oil (single olive-arbequina varietal, highest quality, consistently lowest free acidity level year after year)…and…three different risotto mixes, and a super fresh tomato-artichoke pasta sauce (Chef Richie ALWAYS says:…”You open the jar and poof!…an Italian grandma comes out and cooks you dinner!”…best sauce out of a jar EVER), and…we have a line of three Marinades in Minutes for beef, chicken, pork and even fish…Korean Barbeque, Carne Asada and Basque Norte. Really, yes, the contest is about the sun dried tomatoes, but hey…chef…yes YOU…BE CREATIVE! After the grand prize, second place gets $500, third place gets a premium Bella Sun Luci gift box and then…each month…I choose a recipe that didn’t win, place or show, which I call Honorable Mention. These are always interesting, fun-for-me-to-analyze recipes and their chefs also get a Bella Sun Luci gift box.

This month I’m honorably mentioning the Quinoa Salad for the reasons I’ve mentioned…and because quinoa is a gluten-free SEED (not grain) that is chock-full of protein…and because I did have two notes I wrote on my copy of the recipe when I was whippin’ up this dish, to communicate to all of you…so, Chef Richie Says: When the dressing to ANY salad or dish is too oily, ADD RED WINE VINEGAR! And…this recipe calls for a lot of feta and although we here at Bella Sun Luci LOVE feta, try it with half of the recipe’s amount at first…and one last thing that’s not on my notes but is making a lot of sense to me right now, being the King of leftovers and adjustments: If you have leftover roasted (or any kind) chicken, or pork, or whatever’s creative for you protein-wise, I think it will make this dish a bit heartier, like a lunch entrée instead of the simple (but wonderful) salad that it is.

And…remember the sun dried tomatoes!

Now get cookin’, happy cookin’ and buon appetito!

Chef Richie

About Chef Richie

As corporate chef for Bella Sun Luci, Richard "Chef Richie" Hirshen, whose culinary career spans more than 30 years, plays an instrumental role in product development, recipe creation, and cooking demonstrations.

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