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Mediterranean Quinoa Salad makes a great protein-packed vegetarian meal! Use this recipe to create a gluten free salad similar to Tabbouleh, but replaces bulgur with a gluten-free grain.

Quinoa (keen-wah) is a valuable super food for vegetarians and vegans who are concerned about getting enough protein in their diets. This is the only grain that contains all nine essential amino acids which means less need for food combining. It is also high in lysine, an amino acid necessary for tissue growth and repair. Quinoa has a nutty flavor and is similar to rice in its texture and in the way it cooks. You will find it in the grain category but it is actually the seed of a leafy plant, related to spinach and swiss chard. You can see what the quinoa plant and harvest looks like here. It comes in both the white version pictured below and red, and lately I have also been seeing a black version.

bowl of uncooked quinoa for making mediterranean quinoa salad
This Quinoa Salad makes a great all-in-one dish for vegetarians and a spectacular side dish with a grilled steak or chicken. I love sharing this with vegetarians and meat eaters as it is such a great source of complete amino acids. Plus the combination of cucumber, tomato and citrus is just so refreshing any time.  Gets even better a day later once all the citrus flavors have sunk into the quinoa. Just leave the avocado off until you are ready to eat it.
If you have never cooked with quinoa before, it is so much easier than you think. I like using the pasta method of boiling, which basically means to boil the water first using more water than you need, add the rinsed quinoa, and then once its cooked, drain it, just like you would drain pasta.  Most cooking instructions use the “rice” method which is to cook the quinoa in exactly the amount of water needed and placing a lid on the pot. Cook it either way that works best for you.
This is such a healthy grain to use that I have it in a few recipes.  If you are vegetarian, or have friends who are, impress them with this Quinoa Paella recipe. Robust like a regular paella and so filling.
I even put a little cooked quinoa in these gluten and dairy free Broccoli and Zucchini Fritters. Or try these Mayan Wonder Bars for a high-protein snack for your next weekend hike.
Print out the recipe below and enjoy if for lunch, or as a side dish the next time you are grilling. I hope you try it and let me know what you think.
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Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

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  • Author: Andrea Sprague
  • Category: Salad
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This salad can be enjoyed as a main course or a side dish.  It keeps in the refrigerator for a week, but I would leave out the avocado if you plan to store it that long. The avocado will get brown and you could instead just add a little when you are ready to eat this dish.



1 ½  cups quinoa
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and diced, about 1 cup to 1/2 cups
2 large tomatoes, chopped
¼  cup green onions, sliced thinly
¼  cup parsley, minced
¼  cup fresh mint, minced
¼  cup fresh lime juice
½  cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
fresh cracked pepper, about 6 turns

1 can garbanzo beans
1 ripe avocado, diced


  1. Place quinoa in a mesh strainer and rinse under cold water for a few seconds.
  2. Cook quinoa according to package directions, or see below**
  3. Place all of the ingredients, except the avocado, in a large bowl and stir to mix.  Taste for seasoning and add more lime, salt or pepper to taste.
  4. Add avocado and stir to mix again.  Serve at room temperature or cold.


Quinoa is really easy to cook, boiling just like pasta, instead of using the rice method where you put exactly the amount of water you need and then cover to cook. Use whichever method you are comfortable with.

If you havent tried the “pasta” method, fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Add rinsed quinoa to the pot and bring back to a boil, then lower the heat until you have a nice rolling boil or simmer, dont let it boil over the sides of the pot.  Let quinoa gently boil for about 6 minutes.  To check when it is done, the tails will start to separate from the core of the seed and it will no longer be crunchy. You can take a taste to check that you like the texture. You dont want to overcook the quinoa, the salad will be better if the quinoa is done just al dente.

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