Saturday, July 4, 2015

Summertime Quinoa Salad

If there is any one thing that marks how Americans gather during the summer months, its the cookout!  Maybe it's a picnic or a grilling party, or a plain old fashioned potluck, but when the weather gets warm, we like to minimize indoor cooking and find ways to share good fresh food with one another as we socialize.

I often find it challenging to select a dish to bring that will be tasty and fresh, while avoiding items likely to quickly become suspect in the heat (I like you, mayonnaise, but I'm not touching you if you've been out in the hot summer sun for even a short time).

Add to that that so many friends and family members have special dietary restrictions - some are gluten-free, some are vegan, others are paleo or avoiding nightshades or nuts.

I find that a fresh veggie Quinoa Salad dressed with a vinaigrette is a versatile and addresses most of these issues - especially if you modify ingredients according to specific needs.  It travels well in a secure bowl and tastes even better if you let it meld for awhile in the dressing.

This is the basic recipe, but please do adjust the veggies and herbs to what you have on hand locally and to your preferences.  I have to avoid bell peppers, for example, but they'd be wonderful in here for those that can eat them. And if you're awash in zucchini or other garden bounty, toss some in!

Summertime Quinoa Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
(Vegan, Grain-Free)

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed
3 cups water
Chopped vegetables (at least 3 cups total):
- cucumber
-red onion
- tomato
- summer squash
- celery
- etc!
3 bunches fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used parsley and mint - basil would also be good!)
Diced avocado (optional) - *SEE NOTE BELOW

Citrus Vinaigrette
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste

After rinsing in a strainer, combine uncooked quinoa with water and bring to a boil.  Cover, lower heat, and let cook for about 20 minutes until the quinoa is fluffy and liquid has been absorbed.  Turn into a large bowl (big enough to allow for tossing the salad) and let cool.

While quinoa is cooking, make the vinaigrette - combine all ingredients into a jar or salad dressing bottle, cover and shake well to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Chop veggies into a bite sized dice.  You want at least 3 cups, but more is fine if you'd like a higher ratio of vegetables to quinoa.  Add vegetables to the bowl with the quinoa and combine.  Finely chop herbs and add to the bowl, mixing to combine.

Add the vinaigrette and mix again - I find it helpful to blend a bit less than I think is needed, and let it rest for about a half hour and then add more if necessary (otherwise, I tend to overdo and wind up with a pool of dressing that never melds into the salad).

Turn the salad into a sealable container and if you have time, let it chill up to a day before taking along.  When it is ready to serve, give the bowl a good shake to make sure the vinaigrette hasn't settled.


Optionally, just before serving, dice some avocado to serve on top of the salad - it's best not to chop it into the salad, as avocado doesn't keep well once it's been exposed to air and it will ruin any leftovers if you put it in with the other veggies.  But it's worth having if you're able to manage any last minute prep, because it tastes so good with the salad!

If you're asking yourself why I label this grain-free when it's full of quinoa, I'll tell you! Quinoa is actually a gluten-free pseudograin, not a cereal grain, so it can make a great alternative for those avoiding grains or gluten.  If you're serving someone who doesn't eat grains, ask them if they include quinoa in their list of things to avoid.

This salad also is a good, substantial choice for those not eating meat, as quinoa is a good source of iron, protein, and fiber.

I'd love to hear what you'd toss in here and what your go-to potluck dishes are!


Lori's Culinary Creations


  1. Firstly Lynda love the recipe and secondly it is healthy! Thanks for sharing with us at #AnythingGoes and see you next week.

  2. That sounds delicious. I think I will try some this week.

  3. YUM! I love quinoa, and I love quinoa salads. My favorite one is really simple: quinoa, tomato, avocado, cilantro, and lime juice. So good :)

    Found you via Best of the Blogosphere

  4. I'm not really a quinoa fan however this does look tempting. Thanks for sharing with us at #WednesdaysWisdom

  5. This looks interesting, Lynda! I have been "trying" to develop a taste for Quinoa, your recipe may help!

    I came over on #FavoriteThings today. I added you on Pinterest and Twitter, and I pinned you here:

    Hope you have a blessed day today~

  6. my son and I love quinoa...we are so going to try this. THanks. Stopping by from #FullPlateThursday

  7. My kids and I would love this. We love Quinoa.

  8. This looks good. I like quinoa and this remind me something of a tabbouli salad.
    Thanks for posting at Wildcrafting Wednesday.

  9. Great recipe. Quinoa is such a healthy grain and make wonderful salads like this one. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays. Pinned & twitted.

  10. I love quinoa salads, your version sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing at What'd You Do This Weekend?!

  11. My hubby and I have yet to try Quinoa, we simply must do it. Thanks for sharing your salad with us at Merry Monday. Pinning to my Summer Salads board so we can try it.

  12. This looks and sounds delicious!! Thanks for sharing with us at Mommy Monday- pinned this to our board :)

  13. Oh Yum! I get so excited each week to see what you have been working on because it’s always AMAZING! Thank you for sharing this with us. Pinned and tweeted. I hope to see you on Monday at 7 pm, so we can party!!!! Lou Lou Girls

  14. Love the vinaigrette you have used with your delicious Quinoa Salad! Thank you so much for sharing this wholesome summer salad with the Hearth and Soul hop. Pinned and tweeted :-)

  15. This looks so light and refreshing! I'm featuring it this week as one of my personal favorites on Youre Gonna Love It

  16. Love the healthy recipe!! I will have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing at #HomeMattersParty I hope you will join us again this week!!

  17. Thank you for sharing at Waiting on...Wednesday! Hope to see you back tomorrow!

    Holly @

  18. Yum!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday!! Hope to see you again this week! I love having you!! Pinned!

  19. Sounds like a delicious and healthy salad! Thanks for sharing with SYC.