Mediterranean quinoa salad is a flavorful, veggie-loaded salad with great colors, flavors and textures! Perfect for a side dish or check out my ideas to make it a main meal!
Happy Thursday, my friends!
We've had a great first week back at school - both kids are happy and getting settled in their new classes and I'm so relieved to see their BIG smiles each day at pick-up!
I'm also relieved that we've got a 3-day weekend coming up for Labor Day.
We're beach bound tomorrow afternoon and I'm looking forward to hitting the beach with the kiddos and our chocolate lab Dixie in the morning, heading to the pool in the afternoon, visiting our favorite lunch spots and rocking on the porch with a beverage to watch the sunset after the kids go to bed!
Today though we're traveling to the Mediterranean cause you know I LOVE me some Mediterranean flavors!
I've shared my vegetarian Mediterranean chopped salad, crock pot Mediterranean chicken, tabbouleh and my easy baked falafel.
And now, this Mediterranean quinoa salad, which is loaded with colors, flavors and textures!
We’ve got the soft, fluffy quinoa, sweet red onions, crunchy cucumber and red onion, briny olives and salty feta plus the bright, fresh basil lemon vinaigrette to coat everything.
We are talking serious flavor in this dish. Oh, and it’s vegetarian and gluten-free too so it’s great for a crowd!
(You might also love this harvest quinoa salad that's vegetarian and gluten-free and perfect for fall. Or this Asian quinoa crunch salad that is loaded up with veggies.)
Now, I’ve got some notes and substitutions coming up below on how to make Mediterranean quinoa salad. Just tryin’ to be helpful.
If you want to jump on down to the recipe, simply scroll right on through the rest of the text. The recipe card is near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
Notes on Mediterranean quinoa salad:
- The quinoa for this salad needs to be cooled, so plan accordingly. (You can also stick your cooked quinoa in the freezer for a bit if you’re in a pinch.) See my notes below on some tips for cooking quinoa.
- You can make the entire salad ahead if you want. Just wait to add the dressing until you’re ready to serve.
- The basil flavor in the dressing is pretty mild so I like to top this salad with extra chopped basil. I add an extra squeeze of lemon before serving, as well, to really make it pop.
- No white wine vinegar? I made this once when I was out and substituted regular distilled vinegar and a pinch of sugar and it turned out just fine.
- I like the salty pop from the feta cheese but you could leave it out if you want this salad to be dairy-free and/or vegan.
This quinoa salad goes great with burgers (it would pair fabulously with my Greek turkey burgers with tzatziki sauce) and kabobs or just some grilled chicken or pork.
Or you could just doctor up this salad and have it be a main dish!
Variations and add-ins for Mediterranean quinoa salad:
- Add chopped fresh baby spinach or some chopped tomatoes to boost the veggies.
- Add a can of rinsed and drained chickpeas for a vegetarian main dish.
- Or, if you're not vegetarian, add some grilled chicken on top! You can double the dressing for the salad and use that as the marinade for the chicken.
- Top this with toasted pine nuts for some extra crunch.
Options are good 😉
As promised, here’s a few tips on how to make quinoa:
- It needs to be very well rinsed. (Sometimes you can buy varieties that are already triple rinsed.)
- It’s a 2:1 ratio for cooking: 2 cups of water (or liquid) for 1 cup of raw quinoa.
- Bring your quinoa and water to a boil then reduce the heat, cover the pot and cook the quinoa for 13-15 minutes.
- Quinoa is ready when it has absorbed the liquid and “popped,” meaning it’s showing what looks like a small tail that’s actually the germ of the kernel.
- If your quinoa has gotten cooked onto the bottom of the pan (because it absorbed all the liquid before you checked it), you can add a splash of water and scrape that up.
- Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork, season to taste and it’s ready to serve!
So there you go! You're ready to make ALL the quinoa dishes!
And if you adore Mediterranean flavors like I do, you should check out this cheesy stuffed Mediterranean chicken, Mediterranean panzanella salad and Mediterranean nachos from my blogging buddies!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend - and a great holiday weekend for all of you in the US!
(Also, because of the holiday, I’ll be back next Tuesday, instead of Monday, with a new recipe).
Mediterranean quinoa salad
Mediterranean quinoa salad is a flavorful, veggie-loaded salad with great colors, flavors and textures!
For the salad:
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- ½ large hot house cucumber, chopped small
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped small
- ½ small red onion, chopped small
- ⅓ cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped small
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the lemon basil dressing:
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup basil leaves, plus extra for serving
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus extra for serving
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Cook quinoa according to package directions and let cool. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, chop veggies and add to a large bowl.
- To make the dressing: Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until well combined.
- Add cooled quinoa to bowl with veggies and stir to mix.
- When ready to serve, add dressing to salad and stir to combine. Top with feta cheese, if using, and extra chopped fresh basil. Finish with an extra squeeze of lemon juice.
The quinoa for this salad needs to be cooled, so plan accordingly. (You can also stick your cooked quinoa in the freezer for a bit if you’re in a pinch.)
You can make the entire salad ahead if you want. Just wait to add the dressing until you’re ready to serve.
The basil flavor in the dressing is pretty mild so I like to top this salad with extra chopped basil. I add an extra squeeze of lemon before serving, as well, to really make it pop.
No white wine vinegar? I made this once when I was out and substituted regular distilled vinegar and a pinch of sugar and it turned out just fine.
I like the salty pop from the feta cheese but you could leave it out if you want this salad to be dairy-free and/or vegan.
You can add a can of rinsed and drained chickpeas for a vegetarian main dish.
You can add some grilled chicken on top! You can double the dressing for the salad and use that as the marinade for the chicken. Or just add some leftover chicken to make this a main meal.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 352Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 392mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 9g
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary
I'm thrilled the kiddos are having a great time at school and their first week back has gone off without a hitch! Okay, the beach AGAIN!? And I thought my mother took a lot of vacations! lol. Do you want to adopt a 30 something year old?! Because I'm thinking being a member of your family sounds like the best idea EVER!! 😉 Speaking of great ideas - this salad!!! YESSSSS! I am loving the Mediterranean flavors and that lemon-basil dressing looks fabulous! I'm going to have to relax with a big 'ole bowl of this and just pretend I'm on a vacation in the Mediterranean! 😉 Pinned! Cheers, friend!
If you don't mind squishing between two car seats and above one very large dog, you can totally ride down with us today! 😉 Otherwise, I'll fork cheers you from afar as we both dive into this salad! XO
I love your quinoa spin on a Greek Salad! The colors and flavors look so delicious!
Thanks Rebecca! It's super tasty!
Jessica @ Small Bites by Jessica
Totally adding this to my lunch list for my girls. They will love it!
Yay, hope they enjoy it Jessica! 😊
I've never made a quinoa salad before, but this one looks so delicious that I'll have to try. Thank you for sharing it!
Thanks Sean! I hope you enjoy it!
I am going to make this for 24 people. When I did the adjustments it called for 1.5 cups of fresh basil. That seems like a lot. The cups of quinoa are 6 cups. Is this fresh basil and then you crush it. So the measurements for 24 people for dressing says a 1.5 cup of olive oil and 1.5 cup of basil... is that really how much basil you put in? Just checking before i buy it
Hi Jill! Yes, so if you multiple the recipe by 6 to have it serve 24 people, the amount of basil in the dressing should be 1 1/2 cups. It gets blended up in the dressing so it doesn't come across as overly powerful. And yes, the amount of olive oil should be 1 1/2 cups as well. I would suggest using about 2/3rds the amount of dressing you make for the salad, tossing it together and then seeing if you want to add extra dressing -- or you could serve the extra dressing on the side so people can add more at the table to suit themselves. I hope that helps and I hope you love it!