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This healthy Mediterranean quinoa salad recipe is perfect for lunch or for a refreshing summer dinner
Ready to try an incredibly easy quinoa salad that tastes incredible and requires very little effort?
I am sure you know by now that I am obsessed with nourishing recipes that are easy to make and taste ridiculously delicious. This quinoa salad is no exception.
It’s refreshing, hearty, crunchy, and filled with plant-based protein.
You can throw it together in less than 30 minutes.
All you have to do is to wash and chop some seasonal and colorful veggies while the quinoa cooks. It’s that easy!
How to prepare this Mediterranean quinoa salad
What I love about this recipe is that it uses fresh summer seasonal ingredients, plus some staples we normally have in the kitchen like quinoa, olives and chickpeas.
It comes together in 4 simple steps:
- Cook the quinoa.
- While the quinoa cooks, wash and chop all the veggies.
- Make the dressing.
- Once the quinoa has cooled for 5-10 minutes add the veggies, the dressing, and toss the salad.
All you have left to do now, it’s to eat it!
What makes this quinoa salad tastes like summer is the addition of fresh chopped basil in the dressing. Every time I eat this it reminds me of the basil that used to grow in my grandma’s garden in Italy.
Plus cucumber and fresh bell peppers make it crunchy and refreshing at the same time.
I love eating this Mediterranean quinoa salad for lunch or dinner on its own. But you can also serve it as a small side salad with some grilled fish, chicken, or tofu.
Depending on how hungry you are, these ingredients will serve 2-3 people if you eat it as a main or up to 4-6 people for a side salad.
How to meal prep it
What I love about preparing this salad in advance is that quinoa keeps its consistency well for a few days in the refrigerator. Plus the more you leave it in the fridge, the more the dressing and the veggies will infuse to create a well-rounded delicious combination of flavors.
You can keep this salad in jars or in an airtight container like this in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. It’s perfect served at room temperature, or cold straight out of the fridge if it’s a hot summer day.
Another tip if you want to prepare dinner or lunch at the last minute is to cook your quinoa in advance and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. This ensures that your veggies won’t warm up when you mix them. If you are using pre-cooked quinoa, you will need around 3 cups.
Extra tips to make this Mediterranean quinoa salad
Mix it up
I love this refreshing salad as it is, but feel free to mix it up and add your favorite ingredients to it. If you have any other leftover veggies in the refrigerator, feel free to get inventive. You can add black beans, green beans, carrots, avocado, and also sprinkle some feta cheese on top (if you are not vegan, or on a dairy-free diet).
To rinse or not to rinse?
Most recipes mention rinsing quinoa before cooking it is that quinoa grains are coated with a substance called saponin, which can taste a bit soapy or bitter to some people. If you are sensitive to it, then keep rinsing your quinoa. Plus, a lot of quinoa sold these days has been pre-rinsed. Checking your package can help you save time.
Spice it up
The dressing in this salad is refreshing and tangy, thanks to the apple cider vinegar and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Plus basil gives it the taste of summer. But you can use any other ingredients in the dressing. If I am in the mood for some spices, I love to add a bit oregano and chili flakes as well.
More healthy quinoa and salads recipes:
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
For the quinoa salad:
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (15 ounces)
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, cut in half
For the dressing:
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- The juice of 1 large lemon
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup basil leaves
- Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh colander. Combine it with 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Add half a teaspoon of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and let it cook for about 15 minutes until the quinoa has absorbed all the water. Remove from the heat, cover, and let it rest for 5 minutes to make it become soft and fluffy.
- Wash all the veggies then chop the red onion, cucumber, and yellow bell pepper into small chunks. Cut the cherry tomatoes and black olives in half. Drain the chickpeas and rinse them well. If using cooked chickpeas, you'll need around 1 1/2 cup.
- While the quinoa cools a bit, prepare the dressing. Squeeze one lemon, and finely chop the basil leaves. In a small bowl or a small jar combine the extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, the juice of one lemon, and apple cider vinegar. Whisk or shake well until blended.
- Add the quinoa to a serving bowl, then add the chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, red onions, cucumber, yellow bell pepper, and black olives and drizzle the dressing on top. Mix well, taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- If you have time, let it rest for 10 minutes before serving to allow the dressing to infuse the salad with its fresh summery taste.This salad is great served at room temperature, or you can prepare it in advance and serve it chilled.
How to store Quinoa SaladYou can keep this salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. It's perfect served at room temperature, or cold straight out of the fridge if it's a hot summer day. This quinoa salad is perfect for meal prep or for a summer picnic in the park. I love to store it in these beautiful jars and take it with me on our days out.
How to eat Quinoa SaladI love eating this quinoa salad for lunch or dinner on its own. It's filling and naturally packed with good proteins from the quinoa and chickpeas. If you are going to eat it as your main, these ingredients will be enough for 2-3 people. But you can also serve it as a small side salad with some fish, chicken or tofu.
Mix it upI love this refreshing salad as it is, but feel free to mix it up and add your favorite ingredients to it. If you have any other leftover veggies in the refrigerator, feel free to get inventive. You can add black beans, green beans, avocado, sundried tomatoes, and also sprinkle some feta cheese on top.
Have you tried this recipe?
Let me know if you enjoyed it. Leave a comment below.
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