Rich in protein and vegetable-packed, this Quinoa salad is a staple in summer. Quinoa, fresh vegetables, and salty feta are tossed in a zesty olive oil vinaigrette.
It's summer and Salad Time again! Sharing this wonderful recipe of Quinoa Salad which we made this week. Having varieties of salad recipes in your kitchen repertoire can never be too many.
Don’t want to keep on beating the same dish again? This quinoa-based recipe gives a super healthy and tasty salad variation.
I have shared a few salad recipes down the years. Salads are healthy and a refreshing way to have lunch. You may check out these salad recipes - Italian Chopped Salad, Roasted Corn Salad, or even one based on an Asian dressing like Asian Cucumber Salad.
We have all heard about the nutritional benefits of quinoa - High fibre, low carbs, good protein and plenty of vitamins and minerals.
A few reasons why I made and loved this -
- Super easy to make a refreshing nutritious salad. Just prep and arrange the ingredients and toss them together.
- A superfood added to other healthy ingredients makes a super healthy dish.
- If you are like me not a big fan of Quinoa, this is a rather nice way of having in a zesty and flavour-packed dish.
Is Quinoa salad healthy?
Yes, it is a Super food. Packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats and fiber, it is more healthy than your regular rice, wheat, oats and other grains and cereals.
It is Ok to eat quinoa every day because it’s a nutritious grain. But it packs many carbs, so if you are into a diet plan, use it judiciously.
It may not be the right food for your keto/low carb diet since it is high in carbs. You may include it in a very small portion along with other high fiber and protein.
It has 50% higher carbs than brown rice and as much as white rice. Thinking of carbs, it is a good substitute for white rice in your meals. When you consider that it has twice the protein and more fiber, it surely is a more healthy substitute for white rice.
If this is your first time, just watch out if your body shows signs of allergy or intolerance to Quinoa.
For salad dressing
To make a salad with quinoa, the dressing has to be interesting. I have made this vinaigrette dressing flavored with herbs, spices, salt, pepper, sugar, and other ingredients. These are your everyday ingredients and most probably available in your pantry.
- Olive oil - the best dressing for a salad. Not just improves the taste but also helps in absorbing nutrients from the vegetables. Recommend extra-virgin olive oil.
- Red Wine Vinegar - Gives a pinkish color and brings a level of acidity and sweetness to the dressing. Can substitute with other wine-based vinegar like sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar, or champagne vinegar.
- Garlic powder - a bomb of flavour. You will find garlic in most of my recipes.
- Sugar - to provide sweetness to the dressing and salad
- Dijon Mustard - It adds zest and flavour to the vinaigrette. Dijon mustard is stronger in flavour and a bit spicier than regular mustard.
- Oregano and parsley - commonly used herbs to make the base of the salad more interesting.
- Salt and pepper - for seasoning as per taste
- Quinoa - Prefer red quinoa. Unfortunately, I could not get it nearby this time. White will do it too but red just adds more color to the dish and makes it interesting.
- Vegetables - The usual culprits here - Cucumber, Red bell pepper, Cherry tomatoes, Onion
- Feta - Popular and one of the best cheese for salad. Salty and tangy works very well with olive oil-based dressings.
- Sunflower seeds - Another superfood to the mix.
- Parsley - adds freshness and slight bitterness and also goes perfectly with quinoa-based salads.
- You can also add cooked chickpeas, olives, shredded carrots, etc.
How to Cook Quinoa?
I am sharing with you all that is required to cook Quinoa properly. It will take 20 minutes at the most for two cups of quinoa.
Advisable to rinse quickly thoroughly before cooking. The reason being Quinoa grains have a bitter coating on their hull called Saponin. This gives it a bitter taste which we would like to avoid.
- Put quinoa in a strainer or coffee filter. Put the strainer under running water and gently rub the grains with your fingers. This is enough to remove the saponin.
- Take the rinsed quinoa and put it in a pot. Once you have brought it to a boil, reduce heat and bring it to a simmer until the grains puff up and double the quantity. The color lightens up once it is done so these can be your visual mark.
- Drain the excess water by keeping it in a mesh.
- Let the quinoa cool down to normal temperature before you add it to the salad.
As simple as it gets. You can prepare this salad in four easy steps
- Prepare the dressing
- Mix all these common ingredients in a bowl.
- Cook the quinoa
- Rinse the quinoa under running water for a minute and transfer to a sieve to drain excess water. You may roast the quinoa too which gives it a very nice nutty flavour.
- Chop the vegetables
- Chop the vegetables to bite sized pieces so you can get all the different things in each mouthful.
- Toss everything in a bowl
It is a versatile dish. You can serve the salad either hot or cold.
Moreover because of the amount of quinoa in it, it is a meal by itself. Quinoa, because it contains loads of carbs is very fulfilling. The salad also has your required amount of green vegetables, superfoods (sunflower seeds) and herbs.
You can also serve this along with a plate of proteins like grilled or fried meat. Suggest chicken wings, Tortilla Chips Crusted Baked Fish Bites, or CRISPY FRIED CHICKEN TENDERS. For vegetarian options, you can refer to my Cheesy Ranch Potatoes.
- Take care while cooking the quinoa. If that is done well, you are clear on this. The rest of the recipe isn't too hard.
- This salad has many ingredients and it is preferable to taste as many as possible in each mouthful. Chop your vegetables in bite-sized pieces accordingly.
- Pick a cheese (if you don't have feta) that is not too soft. The cheese to be added should be able to crumble or shred.
- Shake the ingredients of the vinaigrette well so that olive oil emulsifies when it comes in contact with vinegar. The result is a nice creamy texture.
This salad has grains and many low moisture content veggies and so it stays well. It does wilt a bit with time but you can have it later too without any loss in taste or form.
If you plan to make it ahead, then prepare the quinoa and the dressing. You may keep the veggies chopped and ready. On the day of consumption, just toss them together in a bowl, and it's as fresh as it could be ever.
Store and freeze
You can freeze this in the refrigerator for upto seven days. While storing it, pack it in zip-lock bags or any air-tight containers and save it in the refrigerator.
This salad can be eaten hot or cold. When you are ready to eat it, take it out and let it warm up to room temperature if you prefer to eat it warm.
- 1 cup Qunioa
- 2 English Cucumber
- 250 grams Cherry Tomatoes
- ⅓ cup Onion
- ⅓ cup Sunflower seeds
- 1 Red bell pepper
- ½ cup parsely
For salad dressing
- ½ cup Olive oil
- ¼ cup Red wine vinegar
- 1.5 tablespoon Sugar
- 2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon Dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Pepper
Make Salad dressing
- In a jar add all dressing ingredients. Shake really well, it will look creamy and thick.
- You can make the dressing a couple of days ahead and refrigirate.
- Wash quinoa under a running tap. Rub the grains between both palms a couple of times while washing.
- In a saucepan heat 5 cups of water. When the water is hot, add washed quinoa. Cook until it is cooked well and almost has doubled in quantity.
- Shift the cooked quinoa from the pan to a colander and drain all the water. Let it cool down.
- While quinoa is cooking, prep the veggies.
- Chop cucumber, red bell pepper. Chop onion, parsley. Cut tomatoes in half.
- Add cooled quinoa, chopped veggies and sunflower seeds to a salad bowl.
- Drizzle the required amout of dressing. Toss well.