Made using cooked quinoa, lots of veggies, and a zesty and flavorful dressing, Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, is a healthy and delicious salad that can be made in under 10 minutes. Serve it on its own or as a side dish (gluten-free).
If you like to binge on refreshing salads for a light meal, then do check these out – Chicken Cranberry Salad, Broccoli Apple Salad, Watermelon Feta Salad, Cucumber Avocado Salad, Som Tam Salad, Grilled Paneer Quinoa Salad, or Ramen Noodle Salad.
About This Recipe
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is a healthy salad loaded with Middle Eastern flavors. It is full of fresh crunchy vegetables, feta cheese, quinoa, and chickpeas and is topped with a tangy and zesty dressing.
This Quinoa Salad is filling and at the same time very light on the stomach. You can make it using basic pantry ingredients in under 10 minutes.
The best part about this salad is that it is super customizable. The recipe that I am sharing is naturally vegetarian and gluten-free but by making a few changes, you can make it vegan too. You can also load it with any meat of your choice for added protein, change the veggies that you like and even play around with the dressing.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad keeps good in the refrigerator for quite some time and is a great make-ahead option for gatherings or potlucks.
This salad is very forgiving. Leave the ingredients which you don’t like or which are not easily available to you and it will still taste delicious.
Quinoa – Quinoa is rich in fibers and protein and it is great to include this grain in your diet. I have used white quinoa but you can use mixed color quinoa too. It is nuttier and will make the salad more vibrant.
Chickpeas – Another great source of vegetarian protein, chickpeas or garbanzo beans add a nice soft crunch to this salad. Soak them overnight and boil until they become soft. Check out my Instant Pot Chickpeas recipe to perfectly cook these.
To save time, use canned garbanzo beans. Make sure to drain and rinse before using them.
Veggies – I have used cherry tomatoes, cucumber, onion, red bell pepper, and parsley. You can also use red onion, avocado, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, carrot, corn, etc.
Add any greens of your choice such as arugula, spinach, massaged kale, chard, mixed greens, etc.
Olives – Olives adds a great taste to this salad, so don’t miss this one.
Feta Cheese – Crumbled soft feta cheese is a must in Mediterranean dishes. You can also use crumbled goat cheese instead.
To make the salad vegan, skip adding the cheese.
Pine Nuts – These are a must for the crunch, but if you don’t have pine nuts, you can add toasted walnuts, pecans, or almonds to this salad.
Dressing – To make this salad full of flavor, we have a simple dressing that is made with a combination of just 5 ingredients – extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar. Crushed garlic can also be added if you like garlicky flavor.
You can add fresh herbs like parsley, mint, cilantro, chive, dill, etc to the dressing.
If you are looking for a non-vegetarian version of this Mediterranean salad, you can add shredded chicken, grilled shrimp, or pieces of grilled chicken.
How To Make Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Cooking The Quinoa
Cook ¾ cup of dry quinoa. ¾ cup of dry quinoa will yield 2 cups of cooked quinoa. Make sure to cool the quinoa for a few hours before using it in the salad.
You can cook the quinoa in an instant pot or in a pot over the stovetop. Whichever way you cook it, it is very important to rinse it well to remove the natural coating on quinoa, which if not washed properly can make it bitter.
If you are cooking it in a pot over the stovetop, you’ll want to use 2 cups of water for every cup of quinoa. Place the water and quinoa in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, then cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and let the quinoa cook for 13-15 minutes or until tender. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes. Fluff it with a fork, then you’re ready to use it.
If you want to cook the quinoa in an instant pot, then check out my Instant Pot Quinoa recipe to cook it perfectly.
Cooking The Chickpeas
If you are cooking the chickpeas from scratch, soak the dry chickpeas in water for 6-8 hours for better cooking. Cook them in a traditional pressure cooker or in an instant pot. Check out my Instant Pot Chickpeas recipe for perfectly cooked chickpeas. To save time, you can use canned chickpea too. Just drain the can, rinse the beans well and use them in the salad.
Preparing The Veggies
Dice the bell peppers into ½ inch pieces. Discard their seeds. Chop the cucumbers into ½ inch cubes. You can choose to keep the skin on or peel it. I like to use Persian cucumbers or English cucumbers as they are seedless and juicy. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Chop the onion and slice the olives.
Toasting The Nuts
Toast the pine nuts or any other nuts that you are using in a pan or oven. You can toast a big batch and store it in an airtight container and keep using them in your recipes. Make sure to toast them on medium heat.
Making The Salad
Place 2 cups of cooked quinoa, 1 cup cooked chickpeas, ½ cup diced red bell pepper, ½ cup cubed cucumber, ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes, ½ cup chopped onion, ½ cup sliced kalamata olives, and 2 tablespoon chopped parsley in a large mixing bowl.
Stir together ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste in a small bowl to make the dressing.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat evenly. Refrigerate the salad for 1-2 hours before serving.
Top the salad with crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts just before serving.
Pro Tips By Neha
If you do not like a particular ingredient in this salad, you can skip it. It won’t make a big difference.
You can add leafy greens such as kale, spinach, arugula for extra nutrition and taste.
Add sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes to this salad.
This Mediterranean salad remains fresh for a long, making it apt for picnics, pot lucks, and barbecues. It is a great salad for meal prep too.
Make it vegan by replacing feta cheese with avocado.
This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.
This is a great recipe to use up the leftover cooked quinoa from a previous meal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Quinoa has some incredible health benefits and it is a great gran to be included in your diet.
1. It is gluten-free and high in protein.
2. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, vitamin B, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and other beneficial antioxidants.
3. Due to its rich fiber content, it is considered great for digestion and other stomach-related problems.
4. If you are following a weight loss diet, including it in your diet is good as it is rich in protein and will keep you filled for longer.
5. Quinoa is also considered great to control blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.
6. It is also high in antioxidants, which is really good when it comes to overall health.
You can swap it with farro, broken wheat, or Israeli couscous.
To make it vegan, you can just skip adding the cheese. Serve it with some sliced or chopped avocados, a big spoon of hummus, or a scoop of vegan pesto for the creaminess.
You can also add on some more ingredients in this Mediterranean quinoa salad to make it even more filling and wholesome,
- Add some proteins like – soft or hard-boiled eggs or tofu
- Bread croutons
- Make it with 3 beans instead of just garbanzo. Use cannellini beans, red kidney beans, white beans, or any other of your choice.
- Add roasted peppers instead of raw.
- You can add in other veggies such as summer squash, eggplant, etc.
- Replace feta cheese with avocado to make this salad vegan.
- Add shredded boiled or grilled chicken or even shrimp.
- Add arugula leaves, spinach, massaged kale, or even fresh basil leaves for an added flavor.
This delicious and flavorful Mediterranean-style quinoa salad tastes great on its own for a light lunch or dinner. Serve it cold or at room temperature as per your preference.
Mediterranean quinoa salad is great to serve as a side dish along with grilled chicken or fish, and also for backyard parties, potlucks, dinner parties, and BBQs. You can even serve it as a side with your continental brunches.
If you are making it for a big crowd, and want to keep it fresh and crunchy, then you can chop the veggies and cook the quinoa in advance, and store everything in separate airtight containers in the fridge. Once you are ready to serve, mix everything well along with the dressing, and serve fresh.
If you have leftovers, you can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about 3 days.
The beauty of this quinoa salad is that it tastes even better the next day. The more you keep it, the more flavourful this salad becomes.
This Mediterranean salad will remain good for 3 days. After that, the taste will differ and won’t taste as good as the fresh one.
I would not recommend you to freeze this quinoa vegetable salad, as if you freeze it, the freshness and the texture will not remain the same. Instead, you can cook the quinoa and freeze it. Stir up the vegetables and feta cheese in the quinoa when you want to serve the salad.
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Mediterranean Quinoa Salad Recipe
For The Salad
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (white or mixed color)
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- ½ cup cubed cucumber
- ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup sliced Kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 2 ounces Feta cheese
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
For The Dressing
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- Mix together cooked quinoa, cooked chickpeas, red bell pepper, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, onion, Kalamata olives, and parsley in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir together extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to make the dressing.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat evenly. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving.
- Top the salad with crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts just before serving.