Get ready because it’s summer BBQ season. And you know what that means! Lots of fun, lots of sun, and lots of cooking. I’m sure everyone is on the hunt for the perfect no-fuss no-muss side dishes that are also healthy. That’s why I’m sharing my 5 steps to the perfect Quinoa salad plus an amazing Mediterranean inspired version that you’ll absolutely love.
I’m sure you already know it, but let me introduce you to quinoa. Quinoa is awesome.
It’s a grain, it’s a protein, it’s a fibre.
It’s like superfood! (actually, I do believe they call it a superfood.)
It’s so versatile and you can do anything with it – eat it hot, eat it cold, eat it plain, turn it into a salad. The best part? When you make stuff with it, you know you’re actually mixing up a healthy concoction and not a fatty, calorie-laden facsimile.
You can totally make quinoa salad your own. It’s the perfect base for any flavour combination, and you can put pretty much anything in it. It’s like a grainy chameleon.
Five Steps to the Perfect Quinoa Salad
- Start by choosing a food genre (mexican, asian, mediterranean, etc.)
- Then, cut up a bunch of stuff that matches, whatever you like, and throw it all in. Make sure you’ve got lots of different colours, textures, and crunch, because that’s what makes it so good.
- Add chopped fresh herbs to amp up the flavour. Cilantro, parsley, mint, oregano and basil all work great depending on the flavour profile you’re working with.
- Add flavour and depth with a sprinkling of a flavourful cheese like feta, blue cheese, grated ricotta salata, spiced Mexican, old cheddar, goat cheese, or whatever else you like. Throw in a handful of seeds or nuts – pepitos, sunflower seeds, almonds and walnuts all work great.
- Steer clear of creamy dressings. These healthy salads don’t have any time for that – Just dress with drizzles of lemon juice, your favourite vinegar (I’m lately obsessed with apple cider vinegar), and a good quality olive oil. Grind some salt & pepper and you’re done.
Flavour profile ideas:
- Greek: cucumber, rainbow bell pepper, cherry tomato, artichoke, feta, mint, sunflower seeds
- Tex-Mex: green bell pepper, red onion, tomato, water chestnuts, baby corn, cilantro, mexican spiced cheese, pepitos
- BBQ: bell pepper, carrots, celery, grilled zucchini, cherry tomato, hearts of palm goat cheese, almonds or walnuts
- Italian: grilled grape tomatoes, grilled peppers, zucchini and eggplant, artichoke, baby spinach, grated ricotta salata, basil and oregano,
Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad
What You’ll Need:
1 cup tri-colour quinoa, prepared according to package directions
2 cups diced English cucumber
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1 cup hearts of palm, sliced in ¼ inch rounds
1 avocado, diced
¼ cup pitted kalmata olives, very coarsely chopped (optional)
3 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup herb & garlic feta, crumbled
freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp olive oil
juice of half a lemon
2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
What You’ll Do:
Cook quinoa according to package directions and let cool until just warm. In the meantime, prepare all of the vegetables. Toss everything together in large bowl. Do no use salt as the feta and olives are salty. Drizzle dressing ingredients over top and mix thoroughly to combine.
What would you put in your Quinoa salad?