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Pasta, Potato & Grain Salads | June 8, 2012

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad
Quinoa Salad

Have you tried Quinoa? It’s a whole grain (or seed to be more precise). High in protein, also gluten and cholesterol free (check outthis link for all you ever wanted to know about quinoa, but were afraid to ask).
I made this Quinoa Salad to go along with some grilled salmon and fruit last week for Brookie’s birthday. Brooke and I absolutely loved it. It’s fresh and simple. Mint, veggies, quinoa and an olive oil, fresh lemon juice and balsamic dressing. This is a great alternative to the usual potato salad and baked bean side for your summer BBQ.
Jake was a little less enthusiastic about our side dish. He ate one tablespoon of salad I placed on his plate, then made the remainder of his meal salmon and watermelon.
Never judge the success of a vegetarian recipe by the reaction of a 15 year old boy.

Quinoa Salad

adapted from Food Network


  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa rinsed
  • 4-5 pickling cucumbers seeded, ends trimmed, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes*
  • 1 small red onion cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 large tomato cored, seeded, and diced or a pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley leaves chopped
  • 2 bunches mint leaves chopped (or one package from grocery)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar I used Port Balsamic
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 heads Belgian endive trimmed and separated into individual spears
  • or one head curly green endive
  • 1 avocado a little on the firm side, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks


  1. Cook quinoa, according to package directions. I used a rice cooker and cooked 1 1/2 cups quinoa in 3 cups of water. After cooked, cool completely. I spread the quinoa onto a plate and set in the refrigerator for about an hour. This could also be done several hours before serving, up to a day before.
  2. When the quinoa is cooled, add the cucumbers, onion, tomato, parsley and mint. Toss.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice salt and pepper.
  4. Wash and dry the endive. If using the curly endive, line a platter with leaves. Lightly toss the avocado with the salad. If using endive spears, spoon the salad onto endive spears, top with avocado, and serve.

Recipe Notes

-The recipe calls for 12 cups of water to the 1 1/2 cups of quinoa. This had to be a misprint. I followed the advice of several opinions online and used a rice cooker. The quinoa was cooked perfectly in the rice cooker. If you don’t have a rice cooker, follow package directions for cooking on the stove top.
-It is essential to completely cool the quinoa after cooking. Fluff it up a bit and place in fridge.
-The recipe calls for rinsing the quinoa after cooking. Thankfully, I listened to that little voice that said – test a small portion. I took about a cup out and rinsed it. It never drained. The portion I rinsed was a water soaked mess. It sat in a strainer for a few hours, and never drained. Glad I didn’t try that with the whole batch. Spreading the quinoa on a plate and placing in the fridge worked well for me.
-I prefer grape tomatoes to larger tomatoes for this recipe.
-The original recipe calls for red wine vinegar. I’ve found when a recipe calls for just red wine vinegar and olive oil, I usually prefer balsamic. I use a Port Balsamic “O” Brand, which can be found at kitchen specialty stores, or often at my favorite, TJ Maxx, in the kitchenware aisle. You can also find “O” here.
-*The recipe calls for pickling cukes. You may also use regular grocery store variety, just make sure to seed them (remove the seeds). Or seeded English cucumbers work well.
-Last note- this was even better for leftovers the day after.

7 thoughts on “Quinoa Salad

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Recipe Rating

  1. This looks like a winner. We eat a lot of quinoa at our house. Will have to try this one. Glad to know that TJ Max sells good quality balsamic.

  2. What a great tip about TJ Maxx, I had no idea! The salad looks delish – I've become a huge fan of quinoa lately, I even swapped rice for it in a broccoli cheese casserole with great results!

  3. This really sounds delicious. This is my first visit to your blog, so I spent some time browsing through your earlier posts. I'm so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  4. I'm making this for the father's day bbq… what about adding the romaine into the ingredients. How would you recommend doing this?

    1. Melwel, Chop the lettuce into bite size pieces. I would use about one half head, or about 6 cups total. Just mix in to the salad, or lay the chopped pieces on a platter, then top with the quinoa mixture. When serving, scoop up the lettuce with the quinoa.

  5. My wife recently introduced me to quinoa. We also use it as both a substitute for rice or pasta depending on the recipe. I think the salad idea looks great.