Quinoa Salad with Zucchini & Lemon ♥ Recipe

Quinoa Salad with Zucchini & Lemon, another healthy salad ♥ AVeggieVenture.com. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free. Vegan. Great for Meal Prep.
An adaptable salad, either lots of zucchini tossed with chunks of crisp-sautéed zucchini or, my favorite, that same crisp-sautéed zucchini tossed with some quinoa for texture contrast and a little protein. Either way, this salad is light and bright and one to make over and over again with other vegetables, seasonal or what's on hand.

Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Inexpensive Ingredients. Weeknight Easy. Great for Meal Prep. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free.

Anyone Else Still Feeling Less Than Svelte After the Holidays?

Harrumph. Me too. So here's an easy salad for you, it pairs two of my favorite ingredients, quinoa [pronounced KEEN-wa] and zucchini [LOL, pronounced zoo-KEEN-ee]. You might say that I'm "keen" on quinoa and zucchini, yes? (Ha. I hear you groaning now. Sorry-Not-Sorry!) (Looking for more after-the-holidays redemption? Check out all the Seasonal Soups & Salads for January. So many choices!)

So Is Quinoa Really a Grain? No. No. Nope.

In fact, quinoa is not a grain, botanically it's a seed. But we treat quinoa like a grain so lots of times, quinoa gets slotted into the grain category – just like tomatoes are actually a fruit but always get treated/classified as vegetables.

Is Quinoa High in Protein? No. At Least Not In My Book.

Lots of folks casually talk about "high-protein quinoa". But a half cup contains only 4 grams of protein. My own threshold is 10 grams of protein to qualify as "high protein".

But I still love to cook with quinoa and for anyone who hasn't tried quinoa before, I definitely recommend it. Compared to some other grains, it's lighter tasting and faster cooking and supposedly easier to digest too. Here's how I do it, How to Cook Quinoa for Meal Prep.

What Makes This Easy Quinoa Salad Worth Making?

Toss quinoa and zucchini together into a salad with a little lemon, whaddaya get?

A great refrigerator salad that keeps for several days, low in calories and easy to keep around
A salad that adds some protein (that's the quinoa) but stays light and fresh-tasting with barely cooked zucchini
A lovely low-fat vegetable salad, easy to carry to a potluck or a casual shared meal, say

Honestly, this salad may not knock off your socks. It's not even a salad that people will look up and say, "Who made this? I'd like the recipe."

But it deserves its status as a staple in my house with added virtues of simplicity and adaptability. In fall, cubes of roasted cauliflower, sweet potato or butternut squash could be added. In summer, stir in kernels of corn sliced right off the cob, also some halves of grape tomato.

Yes, you could say, I'm keen on it.

Two Ways to Make This Salad

The first way is to use all the cooked quinoa, more than 3 cups. The result is definitely a quinoa salad first, matching the original recipe name of Quinoa Salad with Zucchini & Lemon.
The second way, my preference, is to use only one cup of cooked quinoa, upending the quinoa:zucchini proportions and lowering the net carbs into "Low Carb" territory. I'd call this version a Zucchini Salad with Quinoa & Lemon.
Which one should you make? Your call!

"Even with my bungle, a yummy recipe!" ~ My Domicile Style


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Makes 6 cups (using all the Cooked Quinoa) or 4 cups (using 1 cup of Cooked Quinoa), see ALANNA's TIPS

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound zucchini, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, then cut cross-wise every half inch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2-1/2 cups water
1-1/4 cups (250g) quinoa, rinsed under running water
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Cooked Zucchini
Cooked Quinoa (1 cup? all the cooked quinoa? your call)
1 bulb fennel, chopped fine
3 - 4 scallions, white and green parts both, chopped
Zest and juice (about 2 tablespoons) of a lemon
Chopped parsley (or dill or another fresh herb)

ZUCCHINI In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on MEDIUM until shimmery. Add the zucchini and salt, toss to coat with fat. Let cook, turning every couple of minutes, until zucchini pieces are crisp-tender. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

QUINOA Add the water, quinoa and salt to the skillet and bring to a boil. Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked through but still a little chewy. If needed, drain, then add to the mixing bowl.

FINISH Stir together the Cooked Zucchini, Cooked Quinoa and remaining ingredients. Serve warm or, my favorite, at room temperature. The lemony flavor will continue to develop over 24 hours.

ONE OR TWO POTS? The recipe is written so that you can use the same skillet to first cook the zucchini and then cook the quinoa. It's unusual to cook quinoa in a skillet but the benefit is, it cooks slightly faster in a skillet than in a saucepan because the skillet's surface area is bigger. (Cool, eh?) But. To keep things moving, you could cook the zucchini and the quinoa in two skillets or one skillet/one pot.
ONE CUP OF COOKED QUINOA or ALL THE COOKED QUINOA? This yields about 3-1/3 cups of cooked quinoa. The first time I made the salad, I used all the quinoa. But ever since, I only use 1 cup of cooked quinoa, it makes for an especially fresh salad, more a "vegetable salad with a little quinoa" rather than a "quinoa salad with chunks of zucchini".

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2010, 2019 & 2020 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. This is a great winter salad that doesn't feel like a winter salad. Lemon is great for lightening things up!

  2. Quinoa is like a new years resolution all by itself. Complete protein with calcium and iron, quick cooking, very adaptable, just asks for creativity. 2 new quinoa recipes in the blogs today...thanks!

  3. I was JUST thinking about a salad like this early today. Quinoa and Zucchini..plus some shredded carrot,and finely diced red bells, tossed with lemon juice and olive oil. Oh, and I was going to add some lentils...not quite the same, but Quinoa and Zucchini seem like Kismet.

  4. I just built this into the Weight Watcher Recipe Builder and it came out as 2 points

  5. Mebs ~ Hmmm, I'm away from my computer and the ability to double check but I will, as soon as I can. Is it possible that we're using different serving sizes? Thank you for being so alert and letting me know!

  6. Karen, Miami FLJanuary 04, 2010

    Thanks! this sounds perfect, and my CSA box this week had zucchini, yellow squash, fennel bulb, parsley and dill - it is meant to be. After sauteing/removing the Zuke, I'll add and stir the quinoa for a few minutes to get it a little brown and toasty before adding the water - a nice flavor enhancer! (credit to Didi Emmons' "Vegetarian Planet")

  7. how funny. i went to the fridge to get something for lunch and saw nothing with protein that could be reheated. it was too cold for a smoothie so i cooked up some quinoa, and added left over roasted veggies. i didn't squeeze any lemon, but that would have been tastier. i love grain and veggie combos, so tasty and nutrient dense!

  8. My quinoa turned out a little mushy. I was reading on sites and a lot of them recommend 2:1 ratio of water. Do you have any suggestions on how to avoid the mushy trap?

  9. Two ways - don't expect the pot to go dry, just plan to drain it once the quinoa is cooked to your liking. But after that, return the quinoa to the hot pan and and dry-cook it for a minute or two to remove excess moisture. Hope this helps!

  10. Thanks! I think I overcooked it and should have watched it a little closer. Even with my bungle, a yummy recipe! I blogged about it on Wed.

  11. I've been eating various quinoa salads over the last few weeks (even blogged about one!), and cannot believe I missed this one! I'll save it for later, however, for when I can use zucchini from my own back yard!
    I use 2:1 ratio (volume) of water to quinoa and it never comes mushy!

  12. This quinoa and zucchini recipe looks and sounds delicious. I've added a link to it from a post I just did for a southwest quinoa salad. Love that you include all the Weight Watchers PointsPlus Values


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna