Quinoa Salad with Tomato-Balsamic Vinaigrette ♥

Quinoa Salad with Tomato-Balsamic Vinaigrette, another hearty, adaptable salad ♥ AVeggieVenture.com.
Today's adaptable quinoa salad, easy to change up. It works as a main dish salad but a side salad too. It has a triple dose of protein, quinoa plus black beans plus still more from the tangy feta. That makes the salad extra-filling and satisfying, even a half cup at a time. This is a useful "concept recipe" just by swapping out beans and seasonal vegetables and even cheeses. Here I've used late-summer vegetables but it's easy to imagine spring and summer versions too.

Real Food, Fresh & Flexible. Little Effort, Big Taste. Great for Meal Prep & Potlucks. Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegetarian but Easily Converted to Vegan. Naturally Gluten Free.

Say hello to the summer's obsession, a salad that half makes itself, just cooked quinoa that's moist and bright thanks to a vinaigrette that kicks off with fresh tomato and closes with balsamic vinegar. After that, just add vegetables and gild the lily with chunks of creamy, tangy feta. So good!

But before we start to cook, may we please take up this question?

Should We Toast Quinoa? NO.

At least to my taste, It's not worth the time and extra step, that is, toasting quinoa before cooking makes zero difference. Admittedly, my statement challenges conventional wisdom. After all, attentive cooks learn early to apply heat to food to draw out flavor and reveal an ingredient's inner character.

Some examples.
We toast nuts to make them nuttier.
We toast bread for its warmth and crispy edges.
We roast tomatoes and squash not only to cook but sweeten.
We brown butter to darken its character.
We put a little burn on bones to make stock.

So what would happen if I toasted the quinoa first, would it make a difference? Side by side, I cooked two pots of quinoa, one with plain quinoa, the other with quinoa toasted to a toasty brown. Did it make a difference? Taste-wise, not a smidgin.

And You?

What's your experience with toasting quinoa?

Quinoa Salad with Tomato-Balsamic Vinaigrette, another hearty, adaptable salad ♥ AVeggieVenture.com.


Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 6-1/2 cups

If you need to cook the quinoa, do that first, even earlier in the day or the day before.

1 large (225g) ripe tomato, chopped, about 1 cup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2-2/3 cups cooked quinoa (see ALANNA's TIPS)
2 cups (about 265g) chopped cucumber
1 15-ounce can black beans (or another bean), rinsed and drained
3 ounces (85g) feta cheese, crumbled

TOMATO-BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE In a mini food processor, process all the ingredients except the balsamic vinegar. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in the balsamic.

TO ASSEMBLE Stir the cooked quinoa, cucumber, beans and feta into the Vinaigrette.

TO SERVE If you like, serve slightly warm. Otherwise, cover and refrigerate to chill.

MAKE-AHEAD This salad is best/freshest on the first day but also keeps for several days. The Vinaigrette loses some of its brightness but the quinoa doesn't get soggy and the cucumbers stay crisp.

QUINOA If you like, use all white quinoa or a mix of white and red. To cook the quinoa, bring 1-1/4 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup (200g) of quinoa that's been well-rinsed under running water and bring the water back to a boil. Reduce the temperature to maintain a slow simmer and let the quinoa cook, uncovered, for 8 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and cover. Let rest for 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Remove the lid and let rest another 5 minutes, then fluff again. If you're making the salad right away, stir the cooked quinoa to help it cool a bit before assembling the salad. This is adapted from How to Cook Quinoa for Meal Prep.

VEGETABLE IDEAS Go for a mix of vegetables that vary in crunch, wetness and color. Here are some ideas: fennel, bell pepper, fresh tomato, zucchini, sweet corn, green beans, celery. At the moment, I'm imagining a fall version with roasted butternut squash and maybe, hmmm, chopped apple? Bits of sun-dried tomato would be lovely, so would sautéed mushrooms and fresh peas. Or what about an Asian version with edamame and chopped bok choy?

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Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2011 & 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. I love this. I was just thinking we needed to have Quinoa soon and that I had promised to send my son a few Quinao recipes and here you are... Thank you!

  2. Nothing like "good timing"! So glad to inspire you, Denise!

  3. This loks great. I love Quinoa, thanks for the recipe.


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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