Refreshing Quinoa Salad Recipe | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Refreshing Quinoa Salad

This recipe, created by Leah Matthews, won Best Side Dish in VT's 2011 Chefs' Challenge. Matthews came up with this tabbouleh-inspired salad while working as a sous chef at Twist, a Rhode Island restaurant specializing in gluten-free food. When the summer menu needed an additional item, she worked out a recipe in a matter of hours. "I grabbed seasonal and versatile ingredients from the refrigerator, knowing that cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon, and parsley form a flavor profile," she says. Using quinoa instead of wheat-based bulgur or couscous keeps the dish gluten-free.



Ingredient Line: 
1 ½ cups quinoa
Ingredient Line: 
1 English cucumber, peeled and finely diced (2½ cups)
Ingredient Line: 
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced (¾ cup)
Ingredient Line: 
½ small red onion, finely chopped (½ cup)
Ingredient Line: 
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
Ingredient Line: 
¼ cup olive oil
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3 Tbs. lemon juice
Ingredient Line: 
2 tsp. grated lemon zest


1. Bring 2 quarts salted water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 12 to 14 minutes, or 
until quinoa is tender and small “tails” bloom from grains.

2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread pine nuts on baking sheet, and toast 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool, then transfer to large serving bowl.

3. Drain quinoa, and rinse under cold running water. Drain again. Add quinoa to pine nuts, and 
stir in cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and parsley. Fold in oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Nutrition Information: 

4 g
Total Fat: 
10 g
Saturated Fat: 
1 g
17 g
0 mg
53 mg
2 g
2 g
Serves 12

Comments on this Recipe

I believe 1 1/2 cups of quinoa in 2 QUARTS of water is a mistake...I always double the water plus a couple of tbsps. and bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes...comes out fine every time!

I made this recipe and our guests loved it. Next time I think I will add some garbanzo beans and a little cheese shredded over it.

This looks great, i will definitely try it, since i am starting to eat clean by cooking my own meals....

Made this and love it!

This is delicious! I love adding a little cooked zucchini, cauliflower, and kalamata olives too. My kids even love it.

yes's really good with garbanzo beans

Add a little olive oil, lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and any kind of small-dice veggies, beans, nuts, etc. to cooked quinoa and you have a wonderful meal - can't go wrong with quinoa (a complete protein too!). Hot or cold - just as good!

Three to four minutes when toasting pine nuts was far too long for me... I ended up burning them all. I suggest maybe one to two minutes.

I made this for a Passover seder and it was a big hit. I omitted the pine nuts, but added feta and a bit of mint. Next time I think that I'll add more mint (perhaps a 1/4 cup finely chopped) as well as a bit more lemon zest and lemon juice.

Made 05/12 USTA tennis team loved it and everybody in the house loved it too. So glad Costco has the Quinoa and Pine nuts. I agree with tommye's comment , when you put that much water it has to be drained which is an extra step. If you just do the typical ratio of Quinoa to water (2/1) then no need to drain.

This is so delicious and healthy, and it looks beautiful. I made a few substitions, though. I omitted the lemon zest (the juice did enough for me as far as flavor), and used slivered almonds instead of pine nuts. I didn't toast the nuts because they have better nutrition raw. I also soaked the quinoa with water and lemon juice overnight. This helps to break down anti-nutrients and it makes the grain more digestable. Thanks for the great recipe! I am serving it to a semi-vegetarian crowd tonight. I expect it to be a hit.

This kind of sounds like tabbouleh, can't wait to try it!


A lot protein

I make my quinoa in a rice cooker on Sunday on use it throughout the week. This was an easy mix up and tastes wonderful! Kalamata olives sounds good. I think I'll try that too next time. Go Vegan for peace!

Half parsley, half cilantro Lime juice instead of lemon Added feta and toasted walnuts

I always bought this at the deli and came across your recipe. turned out delicious and so easy to make.i will make it at home from now on. in fact it was just a tad tastier then the deli.and I can add what I like too.thank you soooooo much for the recipe. it goes great with chicken breast strips if your not vegan.



Awesome refreshing salad. I added grilled eggplant diced up too. WOW. Thank you for sharing.

Awesome dish. I make it at least once a week and share with my neighbours. They LOVE it too. If I don't have feta I use queso fresco. Yummy! Thank you for sharing.


Gluten free for Sunday

Great quinoa taboulle

Quinoa salad

So-so. Tabooli is better.

Yum...made this tonight. Was very fresh and refreshing. Didn't have pine nuts so I toasted walnuts. Came out great, will definitely be a go to summer salad!

See recipe so good

This was a great recipe. So glad I hear about it on the radio. In my opinion the pine nuts are essential, they make the dish. Thanks for sharing

Easy quinoa salad

this looks so good I think that i will try it tonight

Delicious. Here is another great recipe by my favorite vegan chef, Shernell Cooke://

delicious and filling. I didn't bother to peel the cucumber but I didn't notice a difference. I also added feta.