This Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is everything you love about Greek salads combined with a protein punch from quinoa and chickpeas. Plus it’s delicious! Vegetarians and meat eaters alike love it. Plus it’s good for you! This salad is packed with protein from the quinoa and the chickpeas, vitamins from all the veggies, and has only healthy fat from the olive oil in the dressing. Plus it feeds a crowd! It’s always good to have a healthy/vegetarian option available for gatherings. This salad is perfect to bring to pot lucks, barbeques, showers, really any get-together with people who like food (so everywhere).
The first step is to make your quinoa and give it time to cool down. You don’t want to add your nice, fresh salad ingredients to hot quinoa! To save time, I usually make the quinoa and the dressing for the salad the day before I assemble everything. If I do make the quinoa the same day, I take the cooked quinoa and spread it out on a baking sheet to give it more surface area which allows it cool more quickly. The quinoa is used as the base ingredient for the salad, like you would use pasta or romaine lettuce in other recipes. (BTW – Both of those are excellent alternatives to the quinoa if you don’t like it!)
Next chop your veggies and herbs. I like using an English (seedless) cucumber for salads. The skin is much thinner and not bitter like the skin on a normal one, so you don’t have to peel it. Once you have your vegetables prepped, you’ll add the chickpeas and kalamata olives. The olives give a nice salty “meaty” bite to the salad, but are completely optional if you’re not a fan. Chunks of feta cheese are tossed in last so they don’t get too broken up. It’s best to get a wedge of feta and cut it into large pieces rather than use the pre-crumbled kind.
Finally, the salad is tossed with an easy red wine vinaigrette, another nod to the classic Greek salad flavors.
This salad keeps well in the refrigerator, so you can make it a day or two in advance of serving. You could also make it on Sunday as part of your weekly food prep and have it during the week for lunches. Besides loving the flavors of this dish, I first had a similar salad years ago when I was at a pot luck with a bunch of our artist friends, so it brings back good memories every time I make it. This salad definitely has my heart!
- 1½ cups dry white quinoa
- 3 cups water
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed
- 1½ cups diced tomatoes, about 3 Roma tomatoes
- 1½ cups diced English cucumber (the wrapped, seedless kind), or the small Persian cucumbers. If you can't find an English cucumber, use a regular one, but make sure to peel it before you dice it as the skin can be bitter.
- 1 cup of diced red onion, about ½ of a medium sized onion
- ½ cup kalamata (Greek) olives, quartered (optional)
- 1 cup feta cheese, large diced chunks
- Fresh mint and/or basil to taste. I used 3 tablespoons of basil and 1 tablespoon of mint.
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- For the quinoa, add the water, salt and quinoa to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa grains are cooked through. They will keep an "al dente" feel and you will see a little ring around the edge of the cooked grains. Cool to room temperature, or make the day before and store in the fridge.
- Add your cold quinoa to a large mixing bowl, then add all of the salad ingredients except for the feta cheese. Stir to combine the ingredients well.
- Mix the dressing ingredients in a jar or dressing shaker, and shake well to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and also add the chunks of Feta. Stir gently to combine. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper and/or more basil to taste. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
* If you don't have any quinoa, or feel like a green salad, just substitute chopped romaine as the base for this salad. Use all of the other ingredients and the dressing and you will have a delicious Mediterranean salad.