This protein-packed Zesty Quinoa Salad is a party for your taste buds! It’s the best summer side dish or healthy lunch made with quinoa, veggies, nuts, avocado, feta, and herbs dressed in a sweet and savory vinaigrette.
I will never turn my nose up at a grain bowl. Gorgeous vegetables and protein layered over rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice? Sign me up!
Just like my Mediterranean hummus bowl and Mediterranean lamb bowl, this Zesty Quinoa Salad is filled to the brim with healthy ingredients that never skip on flavor. It’s the best summer grain bowl you can bring to picnics, pool parties, potlucks, and so on.
The Mediterranean-inspired ingredients, like chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, and more, are what make this easy quinoa salad truly irresistible. However, it’s the sweet and savory 6-ingredient vinaigrette that gives every bite its signature zestiness. Toss it all together, take a bite, and sit back while your taste buds sing!
- Like most summer quinoa salads, this recipe is a fantastic source of protein and fiber thanks to the quinoa, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, avocado, and fresh vegetables.
- It’s easy to make, but even easier if you’re prepared ahead of time. You can cut the prep time down to just 5 minutes by pre-cooking the quinoa and pre-chopping the vegetables.
- The zesty Mediterranean dressing takes every bite over the top. Easy to make with 6 simple ingredients, it’s delicious on this salad and can even be used as a marinade for chicken, fish, and shrimp.
Quinoa - Because it just isn’t quinoa salad without the quinoa! Just 1 cup of cooked quinoa contains over 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, which is why quinoa salads are so filling and satisfying. But if you feel like mixing things up, feel free to make this recipe with cooked rice, farro, orzo, couscous, or bulgur instead.
Chickpeas - A can of rinsed and drained chickpeas is perfect here.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion - This is my go-to trio for flavorful and colorful Mediterranean salads and grain bowls (you’ll find them in my Mediterranean pasta salad and chickpea tuna salad as well). Grape tomatoes are best because they’re bite-sized and deliciously sweet.
Avocado - This deviates from the Greek/Mediterranean theme, but avocado adds a fantastic creaminess that shouldn’t be missed.
Feta cheese - If you prefer milder cheese, substitute feta with cotija, goat cheese, or freshly grated parmesan. For a vegan quinoa salad, omit the cheese entirely or use your favorite vegan feta cheese instead.
Mint - Spearmint leaves take the flavors over the top. If you can’t find fresh mint, use flat-leaf parsley or basil leaves instead.
Nuts and seeds - Pumpkin seeds and almonds add a nice crunch, as well as healthy fats and protein. Feel free to mix and match with other nuts and seeds, like sunflower seeds, pistachios, or walnuts.
Step 1: Cook the quinoa. If you haven’t already done so, cook the quinoa on the stove according to the package directions. Set it aside to cool while you prep the veggies.
Step 2: Assemble the salad. Once cooled, combine the cooked quinoa in a large mixing bowl with the chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, red onion, feta, mint, pumpkin seeds, and almonds.
Step 3: Make the dressing. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, minced garlic, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl or glass measuring cup.
Step 4: Toss, then serve. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until everything is well coated. Serve and enjoy!
Tips and FAQs
- Always rinse your quinoa before using it! To do so, place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, then run cold water over it for at least 1 minute to remove the bitter-tasting coating on the surface of the grains.
- Save time by cooking the quinoa 1 or 2 days before serving. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge until it’s time to assemble.
- You can tone down the sharp flavor of the raw onion by soaking it in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes first.
- Do you prefer creamy salad dressings? Feel free to swap the vinaigrette for the homemade tzatziki sauce in my Mediterranean quinoa bowl. It’s creamy and cooling, and not as zesty in flavor.
What else can you add to quinoa salad?
You can bulk it up with more fresh Mediterranean ingredients, like cannellini beans, fava beans, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach leaves, chopped artichoke hearts, and sliced roasted red peppers.
For a boost of protein, mix in leftover chopped or shredded chicken or add a can of drained tuna.
What do you serve with quinoa salad?
This flavorful Greek quinoa dish is a filling meal by itself, but it gets even better when served on the side of simple proteins. Go with grilled tempeh for a meat-free option, or serve this quinoa salad next to quinoa crusted salmon, Greek chicken meatballs, lamb burgers, or baked Mediterranean cod.
Make ahead: You can make the salad 1 day ahead of time. Toss everything (except the avocado) in a bowl and keep it in the fridge overnight. Add the diced avocado right before serving to prevent it from browning.
Refrigerator: Store the leftover quinoa salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
More healthy salad recipes
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Zesty Quinoa Salad
- 2 ½ cups cooked quinoa
- 14 oz chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- 1 cup cucumber quartered
- 1 avocado diced
- ⅓ cup red onion diced
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- ¼ cup fresh mint chopped
- 2 tablespoon pumpkin seeds salted
- 2 tablespoon slivered almonds
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup olive oil use high quality or sub avocado oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- If you haven’t already, cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
- Next, combine the quinoa, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, red onion, feta, mint, pumpkin seeds, and almonds in a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and black pepper together.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Enjoy!