This quinoa salad recipe is made with fresh and roasted cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, chickpeas, and lots of tasty herbs. This Mediterranean quinoa salad recipe is all about tomatoes. I slowly roast one-half of the tomatoes and add the other half of them fresh to the salad.
This quinoa salad is perfect for a summer picnic or a quick lunch. Nonetheless, you can serve this Mediterranean Salad as a main course or as a healthy side dish with the meat of your preference or fish.
Table of Contents
INGREDIENTS FOR QUINOA SALAD RECIPE
I’ve already mentioned some ingredients for this quinoa salad, but here I will talk about the components that make this salad one of my favorites.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Combining roasted and fresh tomatoes creates exceptional texture and flavor to this quinoa salad. This step is optional as it adds extra time to roast the tomatoes, but I guarantee it will be worth the effort!
- Cooked Quinoa: Quinoa is a great grain rich in protein and fiber, with multiple benefits for those following a healthy diet. In addition, it is a recommended grain for people with celiac disease, as it does not contain gluten.
- Cooked Chickpeas: Chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans. These legumes are affordable, versatile, and highly nutritious. Their nutty taste and grainy texture pair well with this quinoa salad.
- Smoked Paprika: This spice brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes.
- Olives: You can use any type of olives you have on hand – green, black, or Kalamata.
- Fresh Herbs: We all love the combination of tomato, parsley and basil. However, the addition of fresh thyme takes this quinoa salad recipe to another level.
- Cheese: I love the creamy and salty bite of feta cheese, but you could use another type of white cheese of your preference. However, if you are vegan, omit the cheese or add tofu.
- Homemade Salad Dressing: Because quinoa is soft and delicate, it absorbs thin dressing better than creamy one. And that’s why I like to drizzle it with my homemade lime Dijon mustard dressing. This dressing is sensational and is a perfect match for this salad.
HOW TO MAKE MEDITERRANEAN QUINOA SALAD
First, you need to roast the tomatoes and cook the quinoa! See my recipe on how to cook quinoa. Then make the garlic and lime salad dressing. In a small mason jar or small bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and black pepper. Mix vigorously for 30 seconds to emulsify.
When the quinoa is cooked and still hot, place it in a large bowl and drizzle with half of the lime dressing. Mix to coat the quinoa well with the dressing.
Then add the chickpeas, olives, tomatoes, red onion and cucumber to the bowl. Drizzle with the remaining lime dressing and mix everything to combine.
Finish with feta cheese and greens! Add the crumbled feta cheese, parsley and basil or baby arugula. Mix again gently, taste for seasoning and add more if necessary. Serve and enjoy!
TIPS FOR THIS MEDITERRANEAN TASTY SALAD
- First, roast the tomato. Roasted cherry tomatoes are easy to make, but it takes a while for them to wilt in the oven and then chill. That’s why I suggest making them first, so they’ll have time to sit at room temperature until you’re ready to assemble the salad.
- Pour the salad dressing over the quinoa while it’s still hot. Doing this will ensure that the quinoa absorbs more flavor. The tiny grains act like a sponge to soak up that tasty lemon and garlic salad dressing!
- I like to soak the red onion in water before chopping. This reduces the taste of the raw onion. So, add the onion pieces to a small bowl of water before you start chopping the other vegetables.
HOW TO STORE THE QUINOA SALAD
Quinoa Salad can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
WHAT DISHES GO WELL WITH QUINOA SALAD
As this quinoa salad recipe is high in protein, carbohydrates and fat, I often enjoy it as a complete meal for lunch. However, for those days when I need more protein, I serve this Mediterranean quinoa salad as a side dish for some of my favorite meat or fish dishes, like Carne Asada or Honey Orange Glazed Salmon.
MEDITERRANEAN SALAD VARIATIONS
With a few ingredient swaps, you can easily change the flavors of this quinoa salad to your liking!
- Olives: Use pitted black, green, or Kalamata olives. But if you don’t like olives, leave them out or add some capers or Gerkins!
- Herbs: You can use other flavorings of your liking, like mint or cilantro, instead of basil and parsley.
- Leafy greens: You can add arugula, spinach or kale.
- Tomatoes: You can use sun-dried tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes.
- Add roasted peppers: Chop roasted peppers and add to salad along with remaining vegetables.
- Nuts and Seeds: There are so many ways to add a little bit of crunch to this salad! Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are great, or you can add almost any type of roasted nuts. Almonds, hazelnuts and pine nuts pair especially well with this salad.
Quinoa Salad With Cherry Tomatoes
- Chopping board
- Mason Jar
- Salad Spoons
- Baking Sheet
FOR THE SALAD DRESSING:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tbsps lime juice, freshly squeezed, or lemon
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
FOR THE SALAD:
- 3 cups cooked quinoa*
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, half raw and half roasted* (roasting is optional)
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium cucumber, diced
- ½ red onion, chopped
- ¾ cup olives
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup feta cheese, (optional)
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves (optional)
- ½ cup fresh basil, or baby arugula
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
ROASTING THE TOMATOES (optional):
- Preheat the oven to 300℉/150°C.
- Cut 1 cup cherry tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper and place cut side down on a baking sheet.
- Roast for 60 to 90 minutes or until wilted and golden around the edges (time will depend on the size and juiciness of the tomatoes). Remove from the oven and set aside.
- In a small mason jar or small bowl, combine ¼ cup olive oil, 3 tbsps lime juice, 1 clove garlic, ½ tsp Dijon mustard, ½ tsp sea salt and ¼ tsp black pepper. Mix vigorously for 30 seconds to emulsify.
ASSEMBLING THE SALAD:
- In a large bowl, place the cooked 3 cups cooked quinoa* and drizzle with half of the lemon salad dressing. Mix.
- Add the 2 cups cherry tomatoes (roasted and fresh, if using), 1 medium cucumber, ½ red onion, 1 cup cooked chickpeas and ½ red onion. Mix with the remaining salad dressing.
- Season with ¼ tsp smoked paprika, salt and black pepper. Mix it up.
- Add the crumbled ½ cup feta cheese, 6 sprigs fresh thyme, ¼ cup fresh parsley and ½ cup fresh basil (or arugula). Mix gently, taste for seasoning and add more if necessary.
- Serve and enjoy!