Simple Summer Quinoa Salad Recipe
our search for the ultimate salad is over. This is it… the one that has all the fancy-pants elements you love and crave in a single, extraordinary bowl of goodness. It’s a chop-and-toss situation, packed with gorgeous, nourishing, and hydrating ingredients that will treat your taste buds right.
It’s one of those recipes that’ll wow the crowd at parties, picnics, barbecues, and endless summer celebrations.
A Few Notes on the Summer Quinoa Recipe
Herbs: You can swap in parsley or cilantro for mint or basil.
Veggies: You can add chopped bell pepper, corn, red onion, and anything goes. You can even add chickpeas.
Quinoa: Any color will work! You can use 3 cups of leftover cooked quinoa, with any seasoning. You can also swap 3 cups of cooked farro for the quinoa. For foolproof fluffy quinoa every time: bring one part quinoa to two parts water (or broth) to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for about ~10-15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, cover, and let the quinoa steam for ~5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and voilà, perfectly light and fluffy quinoa!
Cheese: You can use feta if you prefer. Or, omit completely for vegan dishes.
Dressing: I recommend tasting after mixing everything with the dressing and adding extra lemon juice, salt, and pepper to adjust for personal preference. You can swap in apple cider vinegar for red wine vinegar if you prefer and add lemon zest to bolden the lemon flavor.
- 1 cup Quinoa
- rinsed 2 cups low sodium chicken stock or broth (may sub water)
- 1 garlic clove
- smashed 4 slices of bacon
- 2 cobs of corn, shucked
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (may sub regular tomatoes, chopped and seeded)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Directions for Summer Quinoa Salad
Place the quinoa, chicken broth, and garlic in a saucepan over high heat. Bring this to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp, and then drain all but a teaspoon or 2 of the drippings from the skillet.
Chop the bacon and reserve it for later.
Meanwhile, cut the corn off of the cobs and add it to the drippings, along with another teaspoon of canola or olive oil over medium heat.
Cook the corn for 4-5 minutes until it begins to caramelize.
Turn the heat off and add the cooked quinoa, tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, reserved bacon, lemon juice, and oil to the corn.
Stir everything together until it is well combined. Serve this warm or at room temperature.
Summer Quinoa Salad Nutrition Facts
- Calories: 300
- Protein: 11 g
- Total Fat: 19 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 15.5 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.5 g
- Cholesterol: 10 mg
- Total Carbohydrate: 25 g
- Dietary Fiber: 4 g
- Total Sugar: 3 g
- Natural Sugar: 3 g
- Added Sugar: 0 g
- Sodium: 490 mg
How To Prepare Quinoa For A Salad
Quinoa is gluten-free and packed with nutrients like protein, zinc, fiber, and folate, as well as antioxidants. Quinoa doesn’t take long to prepare, and you can add it to your diet in both sweet and savory dishes.
There are three main points for preparing your quinoa for a quinoa salad.
- Always keep in mind what you will be adding to your quinoa when considering whether to use water or broth to cook it in. Water or vegetable broth is perfect for a recipe like this one
- Ensure that your quinoa is fully cooled down. (Unless you want it to be a hot salad. But that’s a different conversation)
- Make sure you fluff it well with a fork to help separate the individual seeds/grains. This will give it a more pleasing texture
Recipe Variations in Summer Quinoa Salad
Here are a few ideas for ingredients you can add (or substitute) to this recipe.
- Other whole grains (such as barley or wild rice)
- Sweet corn
- Raw zucchini
- Vinegar-based dressing
- Lemon juice
- Lime juice
- Green onions
- Black beans
- Salmon pieces
While this quinoa salad does not call for dressing at all, you can certainly add some! Try a basic vinaigrette if you use goat cheese. Yum!
Yes! Just cook the quinoa in water or vegetable broth, and avoid adding the goat cheese
The truth is, you can put almost anything into a quinoa salad. Think of it like rice. Anything you can mix with rice, you can also mix with quinoa. It’s a very mild-flavored seed grain (If it’s rinsed well. If not, it tastes bitter)
Quinoa itself is considered to be very healthy stuff. It has all 9 amino acids, so you will get the same protein from quinoa that you get from a piece of meat.
More Interesting Ideas
This EASY, simple, summer quinoa salad (aka cold quinoa salad) features the BEST summer produce and is perfect for warm nights. This colorful salad works as the main event or as a side to grilled chicken drumsticks, grilled chicken thighs, or veggie burgers and toppings.