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During the warm weather months, I say a lot of quiet little thank yous to quinoa salad. Because quinoa cooks up so quickly, because it is gluten-free, because it is so accommodating. Yes, quinoa rode a wave of immense popularity a decade or so back, but it’s not a food that should be considered fashionable or not — it’s just a great, versatile, easy to cook gluten-free grain.

This healthy vegetarian quinoa salad recipe stars quinoa, of course, and the supporting ingredients are basically herbs and olive oil, plus some lemon and minced scallion. That’s it. Its simplicity belies its punch of flavor, but it’s so straightforward that it pairs with absolutely everything. Try it with Imam Biyali (Turkish Stuffed Eggplants), Slow Cooked Pork Roast, or a Fried Fish Sandwich.

Quinoa salad with spoon in large pot

Ingredients

  • Quinoa – the star of the show! Click here for everything you need to know about cooking quinoa.
  • Vegetable broth – to cook the quinoa, but you can also use water instead
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fresh dill – please use fresh here!
  • Parsley – I prefer flat leaf to curly
  • Thyme leaves – sorry to be a broken record, but please use fresh!
  • Lemon – You’ll be using both the finely grated zest and the juice. Did you guess I was going to say please use fresh? If so, you were right!
  • Scallions – use both the green and white parts

Variations

If you decide you do want to add more to this salad, there are a lot of ways to go. Quinoa salads can take many directions, from a Mediterranean vibe to a Southwest twist.

  • Add grated or flaked shards of Parmesan cheese, crumbled feta or queso, or ricotta salata.
  • Try some add-in dried fruit, like cranberries, cherries, or chopped dried apricots or pears.
  • You can add more onion, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers (roasted or not), or some chickpeas.
  • You could switch up the lemons for limes, or try oranges which would be sweeter.
  • Add some cubes of avocado, zucchini, or summer squash. You could also add cubes of cooked chicken or salmon or some cooked shrimp if you’re not looking to keep the salad vegetarian.
  • Try other colors of quinoa, like red or rainbow quinoa.
Adding scallions to pot of quinoa

Quinoa Salad: This is the simplest gluten-free grain salad, super flexible and it goes with just about everything.

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Herbs in Summer Quinoa Salad

During the summer, when fresh herbs are in abundance, this is a great way to highlight them. I chose dill, parsley, and thyme for this salad, but you can use any herbs you like. Think about basil, oregano, marjoram, and sage. Taste as you add — some herbs, like sage or rosemary, have very strong flavors and can become overpowering in too-large quantities. But not to worry – if your salad ends up being too herby, just make and add some more quinoa!

Fresh chopped herbs in pot of cooked quinoa

Storage

This salad is best the day it is made to get the most out of the fresh herbs, but it will keep happily for a day or two in the refrigerator.

How to Make Quinoa Salad

  1. Make the quinoa.
Fluffing quinoa with a fork

2. Add the other ingredients. When the quinoa has cooled to room temperature, add the olive oil, herbs, lemon zest and juice, and scallions.

Adding fresh dill to pot of quinoa

3. Serve. Toss to blend well, and serve at room temperature.

Mixing quinoa salad in large pot

What to Serve With Quinoa Salad

Vegetarian Recipes

Non-Vegetarian Recipes

Quinoa salad on plate with barbecue ribs and lettuce

Other Quinoa Salads

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Quinoa Salad

5 from 6 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 People
This is the simplest gluten-free grain salad, a super flexible recipe, and it goes with just about everything.

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (optional)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Juice and finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions (green and white parts)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Instructions 

  • Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse with cold water (unless your quinoa is labeled pre-rinsed).
  • Pour the quinoa into a medium saucepan over medium high heat. You can toast the quinoa for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Or add the broth plus 1 cup water immediately, or 2 cups water, and season with salt. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa grains have sprouted their little tendrils. Remove from the heat.
  • Allow the quinoa to sit, covered, for about 5 minutes, then lift the lid, fluff the quinoa and let it cool.
  • When the quinoa has cooled to room temperature, add the olive oil, dill, parsley, thyme, lemon zest and juice, scallions, salt, and pepper. Toss to blend well. Serve at room temperature.

Notes

This salad is best the day it is made to get the most out of the fresh herbs, but it will keep happily for a day or two in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Calories: 151kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Sodium: 269mg, Potassium: 209mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 671IU, Vitamin C: 23mg, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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