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Easy Quinoa Salad or Side Dish Recipe

My husband is a wonderful cook. We share the kitchen and we each have our specialties. He often does the cooking for our dinner parties.

This quinoa salad makes a great side dish or meal!

This quinoa salad makes a great side dish or meal!

Highly Nutritious and Easy to Make!

I first found this quinoa salad on one of the food network channels, and I created my own delicious version using some fresh produce from my garden. It would be a perfect picnic dish or could be served almost anytime one wishes to eat a delicious and highly nutritious meal.

I was unfamiliar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) until my husband and I happened to be watching that particular show together. I was intrigued.

It looks a bit like couscous, which we both like. When I found out that it is an excellent source of protein, I decided to try it sometime. My hubby and I were shopping in Costco one day when I spotted a four-pound bag of the grain. While it might have been nice to have been able to sample a smaller amount, we decided to go ahead and make the purchase.

Fresh ingredients for my quinoa salad

Fresh ingredients for my quinoa salad


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 or 4 large table onions
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 large English cucumber
  • 1 large lemon
  • Large handful fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground pepper, to taste


  1. Measure out the quinoa and either soak the grains for a while, afterward straining them, or put into a sieve and hold under running water until the water runs clear. (Much of the quinoa one purchases has already been rinsed before being packaged. But this extra rinsing eliminates any bitterness that might still be attached to the grain.)
  2. After rinsing, put into a pot with the water and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer until done. This takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Watch the pot as all of the liquid will be absorbed when the quinoa is fully cooked. It should still have a slightly chewy feel, and the look of it will change. A white spiral-like little curly thread-like appearance will be surrounding the individual grains of the quinoa.
  3. Cool the quinoa to at least room temperature.
  4. Chop the English cucumber into small diced pieces.
  5. Dice the yellow pepper into similar sized pieces.
  6. Slice both the white and green parts of green table onions.
  7. Halve or quarter the grape tomatoes, depending upon their size.
  8. Roll up the mint leaves into a tight bunch and then slice through with a sharp knife, producing shreds. (If you do not have mint, parsley would be a good substitute, although the flavor will be different. It is easy to substitute vegetables or herbs of your choosing with this recipe.)
  9. After adding all the chopped ingredients to the cooled and cooked quinoa, make a dressing using extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and salt and pepper. The ratio is approximately two parts extra virgin olive oil to one part lemon juice or to taste.
  10. Blend well and refrigerate.

Serving Suggestions

This quinoa side dish can be served chilled or at room temperature, which makes it a perfect food combination to take to a picnic as there is nothing that will quickly spoil at warmer temperatures.

This recipe makes a large portion which will feed many people if used as a side dish. It filled a 48 oz (3-pound plastic lidded container) that was recycled from a different purchase some time ago. I'm big into recycling things.

Serve it anytime alone or with other dishes and be prepared for compliments. Bon appetit!

This is the brand of quinoa we purchased

This is the brand of quinoa we purchased

Quinoa's Health Benefits

I took a picture of the bag that we purchased at Costco. It was easy to see the little beads of the 100% whole grain through the transparent window. I also liked the fact that it was organic, gluten-free, wheat-free and a good source of protein.

Quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids, making it a terrific source of protein for vegetarians as well as other people who wish eat nutritious foods.

This grain is also a good source of calcium, iron, B vitamins, magnesium, and fiber.

The back of the bag described the quinoa as having a slightly nutty flavor.

There were two recipes on the back of the bag. One of them was a quinoa pilaf, which incorporated chopped onion, carrots, vegetable broth, chopped walnuts, and parsley. The other recipe called for toasted almonds and cranberries. These two recipes led me to surmise that both sweet and savory dishes could be concocted using this grain.

Additional Recipes

Just click on any of the videos below to learn more about quinoa and to get other ideas of how versatile cooking with quinoa can be. It can be made into sweet or savory dishes.

© 2010 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 28, 2019:

Hi Doris,

That is the beauty of this recipe. It can be tweaked or adjusted to suit just about anyone's taste. Fortunately, my husband does eat quinoa. I put it in soups, etc.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on September 26, 2019:

Peggy, I don't believe I've seen this article before. It appeared as a sidebar on another recipe article I was reading. I am a big fan of quinoa since I have celiac. I substitute either it or rice for gluten-containing grains or pasta. Aside from trying to cut it down for one person (hubby won't eat quinoa) I think think I'll try it or a version of it. Looks delicious!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2018:

Hi Dale,

One way you might like quinoa is if it was a component in soups. I have often added it in place of noodles or rice. Give it a try that way if you have anyone in your home who makes homemade soups. You might change your mind. If not, everyone is certainly welcome to their own preferences with regard to taste. (Smile)

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on May 20, 2018:

Peggy I can't seem to get into quinoa. My wife really like it but I just can't get there with her. I don't like the way it feels in my mouth I guess. I always think "Oh that doesn't feel like a food at all" lol.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 30, 2015:

Hi Au fait,

Glad you like the sound of this healthful recipe which is also tasty and delicious. As to staying cool...we had planned to do a bit more yard work today and after stepping outside to let Skippy do "his business" we aborted that idea. With the humidity, the heat is just terrible. Inside projects today instead. Hope you are staying cool also!

C E Clark from North Texas on June 28, 2015:

I've found another hub I haven't seen before! Yes, I know you have oodles of hubs. Wish I was as prolific at writing as you are. This dish looks so pretty and so yummy! And it's healthful too! I think it would be perfect for a 4th of July potluck or picnic -- or any time.

I'd be eating it for breakfast since there's only me and I would likely make enough for several meals all at once. I always loved leftover macaroni and cheese, lasagna, Thanksgiving dinner, etc., for breakfast. Oh yes, and pizza. This would be an excellent breakfast for people like me who aren't that crazy about most of the traditional breakfast foods.

I've pinned it to my "Salads, Soups, and Casseroles" board. Voted it up and BAUI, plus sharing with my followers.

Hope you are staying cool!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 22, 2014:

Hello Relationshipc,

It is refreshing and good. Would also be good with parsley but this gives it a new flavorful twist.

Kari on August 18, 2014:

I have a ton of mint leaves in the garden, and I wasn't looking for a recipe with them, just for quinoa, so I'm glad I stumbled upon this recipe. I can't image what it will taste like with the mint, but I'm excited to try it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 26, 2013:

Hi vespawoolf,

Using quinoa in recipes is definitely a good thing because of the health benefits...but also the delicious nutty like flavor. I like adding it to my homemade soups in lieu of other ingredients like pasta or rice depending upon what type of soup that I happen to be making. Thanks for your comment and vote up.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on March 24, 2013:

I don't know how I missed this one, Peggy! Quinoa is quite popular here in Peru (since it grows in the Andes) and I make a similar salad, although I like your addition of red pepper. Love it! Grape tomatoes would also be delicious. I also like that quinoa is considered a complete protein. Voted up!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 12, 2013:

Hi Rogene Robbins,

Hope that you enjoy this quinoa salad / side dish recipe. It is really good and refreshing. Thanks for your comment.

Rogene Robbins on March 10, 2013:

Love quinoa! Your Quinoa Side Dish looks yummy! Will have to give it a try.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 14, 2012:

Hi L.L. Woodard,

So glad that you liked this quinoa side dish recipe enough to come back, comment and share it with others. Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 14, 2012:

Hi Brett,

Thanks for the sharing of not only this particular quinoa recipe, but the fact of quinoa being such a healthy food source. It can be used in so many ways whether one is a vegetarian or not. Appreciate your comment.

L.L. Woodard from Oklahoma City on October 14, 2012:

Hi Peggy,

I stopped back to revisit this recipe and shared it with others. Very tasty and nutritious!

Brett C from Asia on October 14, 2012:

You definitely have recipe hubs down as a fine art! This is another good suggestion, not only for the dish, but also all vegetarians should know about quinoa!

Shared, up, useful, and tweeted.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 25, 2012:

Hi Pamela,

Am sure that you will like this fresh tasting and healthy quinoa salad or side dish. I also often use quinoa in homemade soups in place of rice or noodles. Am sure that you will find many uses for it once you have it in your home. Thanks for your comment.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 25, 2012:

I have been looking for quinoa recipes and this one sounds very good. Quinoa sounds so healthy and I had a salad at an event I attended, so I appreciate having another recipe to try out. Thanks.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 23, 2012:

Hello L.L. Woodard,

I believe that you will become a fan of using quinoa in many different ways after you give it a try. I love it in soups! Thanks for your comment and the sharing of this hub with others.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 23, 2012:

Hi SanneL,

Nice to know that you will be enjoying this quinoa recipe. It is good, and obviously other things can be added or substituted. I'll have to make some again soon. Thanks for your comment and the sharing of this hub.

L.L. Woodard from Oklahoma City on February 23, 2012:

Quinoa sounds like a versatile and nutritious ingredient. As I am trying to reduce the amount of meat I eat over the span of each week, I'm going to jump in with both feet and give this staple a try.

Your photos accompanying this hub are eye-catching and add much to the text.

Voted up and SHARED.

SanneL from Sweden on February 23, 2012:

I use this healthy and tasty grain a lot in my cooking. It's a great source of protein among other things. Just by looking at your picture, I know I will try this recipe. It looks and sounds so delicious. However, I will have it as my main dish. A huge portion of it, Yum!!

Wonderful pictures! Rated up and definitely sharing!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 10, 2012:

Hello vespawoolf,

Have you tried all the different types of quinoa? So far I have only used the white variety. Love it! So easy to put into soups and other things. Your tabouli recipe sounds intriguing. Have you published it as a hub? Thanks for your comment.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on February 10, 2012:

We are overflowing with quinoa down here in Peru! I make something I call quinoa tabouli, similar to this recipe, but I'm going to try yours this week. Your photos are beautiful!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 15, 2011:

Hello Kris,

As you say, quinoa is rich with protein and can certainly be used as a main dish item. Hope you like this side dish recipe and thanks for your comment.

Kris Heeter from Indiana on November 15, 2011:

I love quinoa and look forward to trying this recipe with it. Quinoa has a such great protein content that it can also be a stand alone main dish too! Thanks for sharing it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 05, 2011:

Hi doodlebugs,

Yes...obviously quinoa is a more healthy alternative to many of the refined starches that most people eat. Thanks for your comment.

Nolen Hart from Southwest on November 04, 2011:

Nice Hub. I first learned of Quinoa last year and have cooked it a few times since then. It must be better for you than the highly processed grains we are used to eating.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 21, 2011:

Hi Charlinex,

I never thought about adding quinoa to rice, but I'll bet that the difference in texture would be good. Thanks for the idea! :)

Charlinex on June 20, 2011:

Peggy, it's great to learn different ways to eat quinoa. Thanks. Sometimes I add quinoa into rice. For some unknown reason, my dog just loves it. I like the interesting texture it adds to the rice. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 12, 2011:

Hello marpauling,

So glad to hear that you enjoyed this quinoa side dish. It is good! I'll have to make some more soon. Thanks for your comment.

marpauling on May 11, 2011:

I love it. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 20, 2011:

Hi glutenfreelyn,

Quinoa is a very versatile grain. Just made some homemade soup a few days ago and used it in that recipe. So nutritious and easy to use. I'll have to try the red and black varieties sometime. Is there a great flavor difference? Thanks for your comment.

glutenfreelyn from Utah on April 20, 2011:

Love quinoa since I took a whole grain class a few years ago and learned about it and other super grains. Red, white and black are all yummy. Great hub!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 18, 2011:

Hello KoffeeKlatch Gals,

Am certain that you will find this scrumptious quinoa side dish to your liking. Thanks for the comment.

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on March 18, 2011:

Peggy, your recipes look and sound delicious. Rated up, useful and bookmarker. I have to try it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 15, 2011:

Hello toknowinfo,

I think that you will like this refreshing and tasty quinoa side dish. Ingredients can be altered and suited to one's taste. Let me know if you like it after trying it. Thanks!

toknowinfo on March 15, 2011:

I am always looking for new and interesting ways to make quinoa. Thanks for sharing these recipes. Bookmarked, and voted up and useful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 13, 2011:

Hi Randy Behavior,

If you try my recipe for a scrumptious quinoa side dish, please let me know what you think of it. Personally, I could eat a bowl of it and call it a meal. I love it and it is so refreshing. Thanks for the comment.

Randy Behavior from Near the Ocean on March 13, 2011:

Have some in the freezer... was looking for something new to do with it. Thanks.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 13, 2011:

Hi Billy,

Go happy to hear that you are now enjoying Quinoa. Be sure and freeze it between uses as that will keep it fresh. Did you try this specific recipe or try others? Thanks for the comment.

billyaustindillon on March 13, 2011:

Thanks to you introducing Quinoa to me I have eaten it quite often with it's health benefits and your great recipes got me going - thanks.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 03, 2011:

Hi Tony,

Hope you can find some quinoa. If you like couscous, you are sure to like quinoa. Reminds me...I need to make something using quinoa soon...perhaps I'll incorporate it into some homemade soup.

Tony McGregor from South Africa on January 03, 2011:

Thanks for this very tasty looking recipe. I had not heard of qinoa until a fellow-Hubber (I can't remember who it was) wrote about it some time ago. I have still not seen it in any shops around here, but will look out for it as we are all great lovers of couscous.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Love and peace


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 10, 2010:

Hello Sa`ge,

This particular quinoa dish is really refreshing and good. Since you love quinoa, I know you will like this one. Thanks for the comment.

Sa`ge from Barefoot Island on October 10, 2010:

Thanks for the recipe. I am going to make it. I love quinoa this sounds so good. thanks again. :D

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 28, 2010:

Hi Rochelle,

I remember the days when I had a huge garden and gave probably about 85% of the veggies away to other people beyond what I froze and canned. Those were fun days! Now I have little space that has enough sunlight hours and primarily grow herbs. Keep trying a few other veggies but rarely get enough results for the effort. You are fortunate to be able to grow your own vegetables even if this last crop was not up to par.

Glad that you liked the quinoa recipe. Bet that you'll find numerous other ways to use it.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on September 28, 2010:

Yes I have done veggie gardening for years-- this year the weather was erratic and the crop not as good as usual-- meaning I didn't have to beg people to take the excess.

Still have a few things going. The yellow grape tomatoes volunteered.

I really liked your recipe. I will be using more quinoa, for sure.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 27, 2010:

Hi Rochelle,

What you have done with your quinoa sounds good. I also use it in homemade soups and it works well. Sounds like you grow your own vegetables?

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on September 27, 2010:

I bought a bag of quinoa a couple of weeks ago and, after reading this, just put a well-rinsed cupful with water in my rice cooker. (The package said it could be cooked like this.)

I have almost the same ingredients you used-- have yellow grape tomatoes and red bell pepper, blood orange vinegar instead of lemon, and fresh parsley instead of mint. I think it will be a nice side dish for a hot day.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 27, 2010:

Hello irenemaria,

Happy to hear that you enjoyed this hub about using my recipe for quinoa. It is really tasty and good for one to eat. Will check out your daughter's recipe. Thanks!

irenemaria from Sweden on September 27, 2010:

Such nice hub! Your own photos is apreciated a lot. I will show this to my daughter. She will love it!

Here is one of her dishes - have a look:

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 14, 2010:

Hi Nolimits Nana,

I've not yet tried the black quinoa but know that I would like it from your description. Will head on over to your quinoa hub now to see what you prepared. Thanks!

Nicolette Goff from British Columbia on September 14, 2010:

I find the black quinoa takes a bit more time to cook, and has a very slightly nuttier flavor. Love using quinoa - check out my latest hub,, for other delicious ways to use quinoa.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 19, 2010:

Hello Ellimac Ymac,

Please let me know how you like it. I have not yet tried the black quinoa so have no idea if there is a flavor difference. Thanks!

Ellimac Ymac on August 18, 2010:

Looks delicious. I just bought my first bag of quinoa, but I bought black quinoa. We don't have Whole Foods or Costco here so I got it while I was out of town. Your post has inspired me to make it tomorrow!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 01, 2010:

Hi billyaustindillon,

Am sure you will like using quinoa as it is so user friendly in many recipe applications. The recipes on the bag if purchased at Costco sound good. Haven't tried them yet...but plan to do so.

billyaustindillon on July 01, 2010:

Thanks Peggy I am not familiar with Quinoa and will seek it out next time I am in Costco or Wholefoods - this recipe sounds perfect.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 29, 2010:

Hi Hubbin4V12,

This quinoa side dish IS really simple and delicious. Hope you like it as much as we do. Had some today as a matter of fact! Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Hubbin4V12 on June 29, 2010:

Uber useful, simple and looks delicious. I will definitely try it out, thanks for the tips.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 28, 2010:

Hi habee,

I'll bet that you could come up with all kinds of uses for quinoa! I'm certainly glad that we purchased it. It will now become a staple in our food pantry. Thanks for the comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 28, 2010:

Hi Pamela99,

You are most welcome. Once you get some quinoa you will discover many different uses. Hope that you enjoy this side dish recipe. We really find it to be good and refreshing.

Holle Abee from Georgia on June 27, 2010:

This sounds great! Thanks for the idea!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 27, 2010:

Peggy, I have never had this but I would like to try it as it looks good to me. Thanks for a good recipe.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 24, 2010:

Hi Rochelle,

Couscous is a grain made from durum wheat and is actually smaller than quinoa. Cooks almost instantly. Just pour boiling water over it and cover with saran wrap. A few minutes later (about 5)...fluff it with a fork and flavor with whatever one wishes.

There is a pasta shaped like rice.

I'll bet that quinoa is good baked into bread. Thanks for the comment.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on June 24, 2010:

I hope it becomes more widely available-- I've had bread made with it. Your recipe looks very good, and your photos are beautiful.

Isn't couscous more like pasta?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 24, 2010:

Hello Pollyannalana,

Are you familiar with a grain called couscous? It would be somewhat similar.

Quinoa supposedly has a slightly nutty flavor but it really takes on the flavors of what is added to it. In this side dish that I have presented, the vegetables and mint flavors predominate. When I add it to soups in place of rice or noodles...again it is flavored by the soup. It is a wonderful healthful alternative grain to be used in many dishes...both sweet or savory. Hope that this helps to answer your question.

Pollyannalana from US on June 24, 2010:

I think looking turning other peoples recipes is a great idea, at first I did it not having an ingredient and found out many recipes can be your own, I am looking for the Quinoa, saw another recipe here with it too. What does it taste familiar to?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 21, 2010:

Hi Research Analyst,

I'm making some cold salads up ahead of time for a lunch I plan to have for some friends. This Quinoa side dish (or salad) is one of them. Everyone that has tasted it so far has liked it. It will be one of several choices served buffet they can take as much or as little as they wish. Thanks for the visit and comment.

Research Analyst on June 21, 2010:

Such beautiful side dishes, that make any picnic grand

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 21, 2010:

Hi Micky Dee,

We had heard of quinoa but had never paid much attention to it. Now we love it and incorporate it into things like homemade soups, etc. Think it is about time to have more of this quinoa salad! Thanks for your interest.

Micky Dee on June 21, 2010:

I've heard of this but haven't tried it. This hub helps!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 18, 2010:

Hello Deerwhisperer,

Quinoa has been around for thousands of years and was very important to the Andean peoples living in Bolivia, Columbia, Chile and Peru. It lost favor through the years thinking that it was simply a poor person's food. The health benefits have been discovered and a resurgence of interest is now taking place and more and more people are discovering its many uses. Thanks for your comment and interest in Quinoa. If you try this recipe, please let me know how you liked it.

Brenda K Krupnow from Ravenden, AR on June 18, 2010:

Looks and sounds great. Can you tell me more about Quinoa, like what it is and where it originated. I've never heard of it before.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 18, 2010:

Hello Corin,

Happy to have shared this scrumptious Quinoa side dish recipe with you. Add it to soups and experiment with it. I think you'll be pleased. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Corin on June 18, 2010:

I knew what was Quinoa, but I didn't know how to use it. I'm going to give it a try. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 17, 2010:

Hi Catlyn,

Let me know what you think of this Quinoa recipe after you give it a try. It is refreshing and keeps well in the refrigerator. Thanks for the comment. The digital camera is getting quite a workout these days! :-)

Catlyn from Somewhere in the OC on June 17, 2010:

Thanks Peggy for sharing this! I will be trying it for sure! I like how you used all of your own original photos too!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 17, 2010:

Hi oscillationatend,

This quinoa recipe is good and this grain can be used in so many different ways. I have also used it in homemade soups with good results. I'll bet that K@ri would like this!

oscillationatend from a recovering narcissist. on June 17, 2010:

I'll check this out. K@ri was on a raw food diet before I met her..haha, maybe she'll convert me.

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