Mediterranean Quinoa Salad | Cathy’s Vegan Kitchen

Dip into a bowl Mediterranean Quinoa Salad For lunch or dinner. This is the perfect quick and easy summer meal that you can prepare in less than 20 minutes!

Mediterranean salad in a bowl on the table

Whenever the temperature outside is hot I make healthy cold salad recipes to cool down. This Mediterranean quinoa salad is packed with chopped greens, chickpeas, and red quinoa, dressed in an oil-free tangy dressing.

It is very easy to make and can be arranged in advance. I made a big batch and ate it all week.


One of the things I love about quinoa is how quickly it cooks. And I love the different quinoa colors available. So today, I chose red quinoa for its vibrant color for this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad recipe.

Salad ingredients

Ingredients in a bowl on a Mediterranean salad counter: quinoa, red bell pepper, capers, olives, tofu feta cheese, orange bell pepper, red cabbage, red onion, chickpeas, cucumber and tomato.
  • Red Quinoa: Red quinoa (which turns brown when cooked) is rich Taste, slightly chewier and heartier texture and slightly nuttier than white quinoa. It is often the quinoa of choice for cold salads because it holds its shape better during cooking.
  • Red Bell Pepper: Red bell peppers are the sweetest of the bell pepper varieties and green peppers will taste more bitter because they are in their less mature and immature forms.
  • Caper: A caper’s flavor is reminiscent of the lemony tang and saltiness of a green olive, but the tamarind smack of flowers is their own. Because they are packed in brine, capers also boast a bold salty, savory flavor
  • Kalamata olives: Kalamata olives have a similar bitter taste to black olives when first harvested. However, when they undergo a curing process, the flavor profile of Kalamata olives becomes rich, fruity and meaty with a remarkable sharpness that is not found in other olive varieties.
  • Tofu Feta Cheese: I make my own tofu feta cheese. It adds a creamy richness to salad recipes.
  • Orange Bell Pepper: Yellows and oranges are similar to reds but less sweet and citrusy.
  • Red Cabbage: Red cabbage leaves have a slightly peppery flavor and become sweeter as they are cooked. Additionally, red cabbage looks perfect in coleslaw and adds a nice shade to a leafy green salad mix.
  • Red Onion: Red onions are the mildest, sweetest onions. Red onions have purplish-red skin with color layered through their white flesh.
  • Chickpeas: Chickpeas taste a lot like beans, considering they are beans themselves. Most people compare their flavor to cannellini and pinto beans because they are starchy. However, they also have an earthy flavor with nutty undertones.
  • english Cucumber: I like English cucumbers because they have fewer seeds and less water in the salad.
  • Grape tomatoes: Grape tomatoes have a tough outer skin and fewer seeds. I like to use them in salads, so they don’t weigh down the other ingredients and make them soggy.

Alternative ingredients

  • White beans often replace chickpeas in recipes. For example, beans, although bland, work with ingredients in salad recipes.
  • Any color quinoa replaces red quinoa. However, black and red quinoa are slightly more nutritious than white quinoa.
  • Choose any bell pepper you like for both color and flavor.
  • Substitute green onions for red onions for a lighter onion flavor profile.
  • Green cabbage has the same firmness as red cabbage.
  • If you don’t eat soy, skip the tofu feta cheese. Or choose a pre-made tofu feta cheese from the health food produce section.
  • Replace black olives with Kalamata olives.
  • Green olives are often used to replace capers in recipes.
Mediterranean salad ingredients in a bowl on the table

How to make a salad

First, cook the quinoa following the package directions or follow my foolproof instructions for how to cook quinoa. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the vegetables. To speed up food preparation, I always use a vegetable chopper.

Vegetable choppers are a convenient way to quickly chop vegetables and cut everything to the same size. This way, chopped salad is easy to eat and ensures a bite full of everything in every bite.

Once this quinoa is cooked, let it cool completely before adding all the chopped vegetables and other ingredients.

Then, prepare the dressing.

dressing ingredients

Dressing ingredients in a bowl on the counter: mint, maple syrup, vinegar, lemon, parsley, Dijon mustard, and mint.

Since I don’t cook with oil, I made an oil-free dressing with 6 simple ingredients.

  • Red Wine Vinegar: Red wine vinegar has a special smell. It’s definitely tangy, but it’s much tangier than balsamic vinegar, which tends to mix with sweetness. This vinegar may be slightly fruity like red wine, but it doesn’t taste like wine. Instead, the sourness is what you’ll taste the most.
  • Lemon: The lemon scent can be described as rose, lavender and pine aromas with a hint of herbaceousness.
  • Parsley: Parsley has a bright, herbaceous, and slightly bitter flavor that works as a contrast to emphasize other flavors in a dish, like lemon zest.
  • Dijon Mustard: Dijon mustard is unique and delicious. It is made from white wine vinegar, black pepper, shallots and dried mustard seeds. Dijon mustard has a sweet and spicy flavor that goes well with salads or sandwiches. In short, Dijon mustard tastes like a smooth, slightly salty, complex tang.
  • mint: Fresh is always best. Mint has a sweet taste and creates a nice lingering effect on the tongue. Peppermint has a stronger flavor with more menthol flavor. Fresh leaves have the most flavor and aroma, which is greatly reduced in dried mint leaves.
  • Maple syrup: Real maple syrup has a clean, complex maple flavor with hints of caramel, vanilla and prunes.
Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl on the counter

Replace the dressing

  • White wine vinegar is an alternative to red wine vinegar. While there is a noticeable color difference, the flavor profiles of red and white wine vinegar are surprisingly similar.
  • While fresh lemon juice is best, bottled lemon juice is a good alternative.
  • Stone ground mustard is a great alternative to Dijon mustard.
  • Use date syrup or agave nectar to replace maple syrup in recipes.
Mediterranean salad served at the table

Whisk the dressing and toss with the quinoa, chopped vegetables, chickpeas and tofu. After that, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Although I served this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad as an appetizer, it’s a great side dish for a picnic, barbecue, or family gathering.

I recommend serving it with a lentil burger or a Mediterranean vegan quiche.

Recipe FAQs

Do you eat quinoa salad hot or cold?

Serve the salad cold for best results. You can make the dressing a day ahead, roast the peppers the day before, and chop the vegetables ahead of time.

How do you make plain quinoa taste better?

Some of the best spices for quinoa are cumin, dried bay leaves, turmeric, salt, and black pepper. I also like to flavor it with fresh garlic and herbs like parsley, dill, and cilantro. You can add your favorite spices to the pot along with the liquid and cook as directed.

Is quinoa healthier than rice?

Quinoa is rich in fiber and protein, contains many nutrients and has a fluffy texture similar to rice. One cup of quinoa contains twice as much protein as white rice and about 5 grams of fiber. Quinoa contains fewer calories and carbohydrates than white rice.

Mediterranean salad on the table


  • For an even tastier salad, make the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad ahead of time to let the herbs and flavors of the ingredients grow while they chill.
  • Cook the quinoa in advance. To speed up the cooking process, refrigerate the quinoa after cooking.
  • Use a vegetable chopper to cut vegetables of uniform size and speed up food preparation.
  • Make sure the quinoa is cool before adding to the salad. Ingredients like tofu and feta cheese will melt or lose their texture when heated.
  • Use English cucumbers to reduce water content in salads. They have few seeds.

You’ll love this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad for lunch, dinner, or as a side dish.

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📖 Recipe

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad Recipe

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Cathy Carmichael

Dip into a bowl Mediterranean Quinoa Salad For lunch or dinner. This is the perfect quick and easy summer meal that you can prepare in less than 20 minutes!

Q. Time 10 minutes

cooking time 15 minutes

course Entrees, salads, side dishes

cuisine Mediterranean

serving 6

calories 51 kcal


  • Cook the quinoa in advance and refrigerate to cool.
  • Use a vegetable chopper to chop vegetables evenly for chopped salad texture.
  • Prepare the salad ahead of time, so that the flavor increases while chilling in the refrigerator.
  • Do not add quinoa to the salad until it has cooled.
  • Serve this salad as an entree, lunch or side dish.


Calories: 51kcalSugars: 6gProtein: 1gFat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fats: 0.1gMonounsaturated fats: 0.2gSodium: 227mgPotassium: 118mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 385IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 23mgIron: 1mg

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