Packed with fluffy quinoa, crisp veggies, chickpeas, salty provolone cheese, and a zesty lemon vinaigrette, this easy Quinoa Salad is the perfect lunch on its own, or base for chicken, salmon or steak for dinner. 30 minutes and done!
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
As we know, salads come in all forms. Simple green salads, hearty salads packed with protein, chicken salad, and grain salads like today’s Quinoa Salad. I prefer a more hearty salad and quinoa salad hits all the boxes. We pack the hearty fiber-filled grain with a zesty lemon and white wine vinegar dressing and the stud the salad with some of our favorite veggies, nutty chickpeas, and sharp provolone cheese. A bright spot in the middle of winter!
There are several things we love about our quinoa salad. First of all, it’s super simple to throw together and can even be made in advance. Two, it’s totally customizable! Not a fan of basil? No big deal, use parsley. Prefer roasted red peppers over fresh bell pepper? Great! The customization are only limited to your creativity and what you’ve got lingering in your fridge.
Ingredients in Vegetable Quinoa Salad
- Quinoa: You could really use any type of quinoa, but to let the colors of the veggies pop I like to use plain white quinoa.
- Basil: Even in the dead of winter, I love the bright fresh burst of flavor fresh basil give different dishes and salads. If you can’t find fresh basil in your supermarket, you can swap out Italian flat-leaf parsley.
- Cheese: In the recipe for this particular quinoa salad, we used cubes of sharp provolone cheese, but diced low-moisture mozzarella, fresh mozzarella balls or even a sharp white cheddar would be nice.
- Vegetables: Again, this is all about personal preference! We went with a combo of diced cucumber, red bell pepper, and tomatoes. It would be lovely to add other colors of bell pepper, black olives, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, or corn (fresh or frozen)!
- Chickpeas: Chickpeas are one of my favorite ingredients to add to salads. First and foremost, they add protein and fiber to the salad, but I also love the texture they add as well.
Quinoa Salad Dressing
- Acid: Every salad needs an acid to start and for this simple dressing we went with a combination of lemon juice and white wine vinegar. The combination of the two is one of my favorite pairings. The lemon juice adds brightness, while the white wine vinegar adds a nice tang.
- Dijon mustard: Almost every salad dressing I make includes a little bit of Dijon mustard. It adds tang and spice, but in a subtle way.
- Honey: Another item I always add to salad dressings? Sweetener. Just a touch is all you need. Here we go with honey, but I also will sometimes use white sugar, agave or even pure maple syrup.
- Olive oil: Salad dressings are a good time utilize an extra virgin olive oil. It adds loads of flavor to the dressing and you don’t need a ton.
- Salt and pepper: Always season with plenty of salt and pepper!
Let’s Make Chickpea Quinoa Salad!
- Cook the quinoa: This can be done up to three days in advance. First of all, rinse your quinoa! It’s really important to rinse your quinoa thoroughly or it can be kind of bitter. Cook the quinoa according the package directions. Usually this means add the quinoa to water, bringing it to a boil and then letting it simmer.
- Tip! One trick I use to make quinoa a little bit more flavorful is to swap out the water with a low-sodium chicken stock. Also, I cook the quinoa just until the water is absorbed, fluff it with a fork and then cover it again, remove it from the heat and let it sit for another 5-10 minutes. This helps to absorb any remaining moisture and make the quinoa extra fluffy.
- Storing: If you don’t make the quinoa in advance, you can spread the quinoa on a baking sheet and pop it into the fridge until it’s chilled.
- Prep the veggies: While the quinoa cooks, chop all the vegetable so they’re ready to go.
- Make the dressing: Whisk the lemon juice, vinegar, Dijon, and honey together. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper again.
- Assemble! Add the quinoa to a large bowl, drizzle with dressing. Toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the remaining ingredients. Toss. Season with salt and pepper again. Sprinkle with extra basil. Dig in!
Variations on the Best Quinoa Salad
- Make it a quinoa salad with black beans! Toss in rinsed and drained black beans. If you want to make it a southwest quinoa salad, in addition to the black beans, add a little bit of cumin and corn.
- Add in chopped red onion, roasted red peppers, and feta for a mediterranean take on quinoa salad.
- For extra texture, add in cooked faro or barley.
- Again, use whatever cheese you have on hand! Mozzarella, cheddar, or fontina would be great substitutes to provolone.
- To make quinoa salad a full meal, top with grilled shrimp or chicken. Even a crispy filet of salmon would be great.
Can I Make Fresh Quinoa Salad in Advance?
Absolutely! In fact, the longer quinoa salad sits, the better it gets! This will keep in the fridge for about 3-4 days.
What to Serve with Quinoa Salad
- The Best Grilled Shrimp
- Brown Butter Lemon Salmon
- Crispy Roast Chicken
- Garlic Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
- Air Fryer Salmon
- Mixing Bowl
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 cup diced provolone
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup diced cucumber
- 2 Tablespoon lemon
- 2 Tablespoon dijon
- 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoon olive oil
- Rinse quinoa under cold water. Drain. Add quinoa and chicken stock to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, cover and remove from the heat. Let it sit for another 5-10 minutes. This can be done the day before. Cool completely. If you are short on time, spread the hot quinoa on a sheet pan and pop in the fridge until cool.
- Prep the veggies and other mix-ins.
- In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, white wine vinegar, dijon, honey, and salt. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add cooled quinoa to a serving bow. Drizzle vinaigrette on top. Toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, peppers, chickpeas, cucumber, and basil, Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.