Garden quinoa salad

The red quinoa salad featured above is more than just a salad; it’s a complete, healthy meal. Over 20 years ago, when I started making quinoa salads, a friend told me that quinoa is a staple for making breakfast porridge and not salads. But that’s not true. There are many delicious recipes that you can make with this ancient grain.

Quinoa contains complex carbohydrates which provide energy-boosting fuel to your brain and body. It’s also rich in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. The grain is both delicious and nutritious. It tastes great with vegetables, rice and legumes and it enhances the nutritional value of your dish or salad.

Quinoa has a nutty taste and chewy texture, and is a favourite among vegans and vegetarians. It’s definitely an important staple in my family and I cook with it regularly. Adding quinoa to a fresh garden salad is one of my favourite ways to eat it.

Here’s the recipe and bon appétit!

Garden quinoa salad

Serves: Makes a large salad

Level: easy

The salad

  • 2 cups quinoa (red, white or black)
  • 4 cups of boiling water (add salt or bouillon cube)
  • one large cucumber washed with peel on, diced small
  • 3-4 celery branches with leaves, diced small
  • 2-3 green onions, diced small
  • 1 large red pepper, diced small
  • 1 large green pepper, diced small
  • 2 handfuls of grated carrots
  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes with juice, diced small
  • 1 handful of each: fresh coriander and parsley leaves, chopped small
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh mint leaves, chopped small
  • Sea salt, ground pepper and dry Italian herbs


Always cook quinoa in double the amount of boiled water (1 cup dry quinoa in 2 cups boiled water; 2 cups dry quinoa in 4 cups boiled water, etc). Measure this carefully as too much or too little water will alter the texture of the quinoa. One cup dry quinoa yields 2½ cups cooked quinoa.

Bring a pot of water to the boil.

Before adding the quinoa to the boiling water, dry roast the quinoa in a non-greased pan on high heat. Dry roasting them first unlocks their nutty flavours and helps remove any residual saponin on the grains – so there’s no need to rinse them. In fact, they taste better when they are not rinsed.

When dry roasting the grains, reduce the heat to medium-high and stir them constantly until they pop frequently and smell like popcorn (about 5 minutes). Then, add the roasted quinoa to the boiling water, give it a few gently stirs and lower the heat.

On low heat, let the quinoa simmer with the lid off and until all the water is absorbed (10-15 minutes or a bit longer for black quinoa). Don’t stir; just let it simmer and leave it alone. When there’s very little water left, make a well to see the bottom of the pot. The quinoa is done when you don’t see any water at the bottom. Take the pot off the heat and gently stir the cooked grains. Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl. Toss and let cool.

In a separate bowl, prepare your vegetables and herbs, as above. You can also use other fresh vegetables. It’s what you prefer. Transfer the veggies and herbs to the cooled quinoa. Fold gently.

The vinaigrette

Whisk together:

  • juice of one large lemon.
  • 1/2 cup pure olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 large garlic bud, pressed

Add the vinaigrette to the salad. Add salt, ground pepper, Italian herbs and stir. Let the salad marinate for 20 minutes before serving, tossing it from time to time. Adjust the herbs and vinaigrette according to your personal taste. You can add more lemon juice or more oil or more of both.

Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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