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Please keep in mind that while I am a certified Health Coach, I am not a registered dietitian or doctor. This blog is not intended as medical or nutritional advice. My posts are based on my own research and personal experience. You should always consult a doctor before making any changes to your diet and exercise routine. You are ultimately responsible for your own health!
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Quinoa “Pasta” Salad

Last summer, a friend of ours brought a delicious orzo pasta salad to a beach potluck. It was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

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I’ve been looking forward to recreating this tasty salad ever since, using a protein-rich pseudograin, like quinoa, to replace the traditional white pasta.

Despite it’s reputation as a “super grain,” quinoa is not technically a grain–> it’s a seed! This particular seed happens to be a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It’s also a great source of iron, magnesium, vitamin B2, and manganese, which are all necessary for healthy brain function.

Combined with an assortment of fresh herbs, quality olive oil, and chopped vegetables, this salad is bursting with flavor and will make a welcome addition to any party or gathering. The original recipe, courtesy of Ina Garten, calls for the addition of crumbled feta and shrimp, but I’ve kept this version properly combined by calling for chopped olives and roasted red peppers, instead. Feel free to add in any other ingredients you like!

Quinoa “Pasta” Salad
serves 4-6

Adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients:

2 cups dry quinoa, or wild rice
4 cups water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, roasted and chopped
10-15 olives, chopped (I recommend Castelvetrano)
2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
fresh black pepper

Directions:

Cover the 2 cups of dry quinoa with 4 cups of water in a saucepan, over high heat on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce the temperature and cover for 15 minutes, until the quinoa has absorbed all the water. Fluff with a fork, and allow to cool while you chop the vegetables and herbs.

*Note: For a more authentic pasta salad, feel free to use wild rice instead of the quinoa. Either option will produce delicious results! You could also try using cauliflower “rice,” if you prefer a more vegetable-centric approach. 

In the meantime, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, 2 teaspoons of sea salt and fresh black pepper in a large bowl. Add the cooked quinoa, and toss in the dressing to coat well.

Add in the minced scallions, red onion, chopped dill and parsley, chopped cucumber, roasted red pepper, and olives, and toss well to combine. Allow the mixture to marinate at least an hour before serving, or chill in the fridge overnight. This salad can be served cold or at room temperature.

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4.8 from 4 reviews

Quinoa “Pasta” Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dry quinoa, or wild rice
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
  • 1 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, roasted and chopped
  • 10-15 olives, chopped (I recommend Castelvetrano)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
  • fresh black pepper
Instructions
  1. Cover the 2 cups of dry quinoa with 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan, over high heat on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce the temperature and cover for 15 minutes, until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Fluff with a fork, and allow to cool while you chop the vegetables and herbs.
  2. In the meantime, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, 2 teaspoons of sea salt and fresh black pepper in a large bowl. Add the cooked quinoa, and toss in the dressing to coat well.
  3. Add in the minced scallions, chopped dill and parsley, chopped cucumber, roasted red pepper, and olives, and toss well to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Allow the mixture to marinate at least an hour before serving, or chill in the fridge overnight. This salad can be served cold or at room temperature.
  4. Enjoy!

This is the perfect salad to prepare over the weekend, and pack for your lunches all week. It’s delicious on its own, or as a leafy green salad topper!

Hope you enjoy it!

Reader Feedback: Are you a fan of pasta salads? Any favorite combinations you love?

22 comments to Quinoa “Pasta” Salad

  • Kim

    This looks so delicious! I will definitely be making it!

  • I’m looking forward to making the quinoa salad and also the frozen bananas! I’m going to make it when we get together with our 4 adult children. They enjoy eating gluten-free! Thank you!

  • Kim

    Oh I’ve made quinoa like this before while just messing around in our kitchen! It put golden raisins in it too. There were no olives and red pepper in mine though which would be awesome! I really like the way this recipe sounds can’t wait to try it!

  • Macaroni salads are my favorite thing closest to pasta salads! How do you feel about polenta? I just discovered it recently and am curious if you have any good recipes ?

  • LOVE castlevetrano olives!! Just recently got hooked on them after hating them my entire life. Looking forward to making this one :)

  • Cel

    Im definitely trying this with cali rice! Can i replace the lemon juice with vinegar?

  • Rachel

    Have you tried sprouting quinoa before?

  • Liz

    This looks great..I am huge fan of preparing pastas like this in advance and taking them in my lunch. Funny that you used quinoa in this recipe, because I was going to ask if you every use the grain-like seeds like quinoa or millet in your recipes?

  • Audrey

    I’ve made this exact salad in the past with quinoa as I’m always looking for a “good” pasta alternative and quinoa fits the bill! Try it with some soaked raw nuts to add another layer of taste and some crunch. I’ve also added dried fruits (mango, cherries), would that keep it properly combined?

  • Jess

    Delicious! I made it last night and took it to a luncheon today. It was a hit. I think I like it warm or room temp, best. It reminds me of a Greek salad (without the feta). The fresh olives are a must!

  • Jennifer

    I made this last night and it was SO GOOD! My husband just had some of the leftovers with his breakfast, that’s how good it is! I used a quinoa/wild rice blend, which worked perfectly. I also added some crumbled feta and sliced grape tomatoes. Just so delicious, thanks Megan!

  • Denise

    Just made this salad this morning and its very tasty! Thank you!

  • felisha

    Just made this salad last night, and I am beyond IN LOVE with it! Cannot wait for lunch to eat this again, since the flavours had time to marry over night :) Thank you for the recipe!

  • Jo

    I love pasta and love quinoa so will definitely have to try this recipe. It sounds delicious!

  • I want to make this right now! Thank you for sharing this recipe! I’ve been searching for something good to bring to Easter dinner and this will be a perfect dish. Yum!

  • I just made this today (yes for Easter Sunday!) and it was fabulous! I didn’t have dill and used half the salt, it was fantastic! It reminded me of tabouli, so I think adding mint would be nice.

  • Erica M

    I made this for dinner last night, it is so good!!! I omitted the onion and olives based on personal taste. I’ve had quinoa a number of times before but never really liked how it was prepared. This is def going to be a go to recipe now! Thanks Megan!!!

  • Sue

    I made this salad and loved it! I did notice that there were no instructions as to when to add the red onion and since there was also green onion I wasn’t sure if it was a misprint and it was supposed to be one or the other. Anyway, I left the red onion out and it still tasted magnificent. Actually, after a couple of days the onion flavor from the green onions stood out enough that I don’t think the red onion was needed.

  • Gina Marie

    Another awesome recipe. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a website that has had so many consistent great tasting, healthy recipes. So far I’ve made your Broccoli soup, Vegetarian Masala, Potato Salad and now this quinoa. Bravo to you Megan. All amazing recipes. I would SO buy your cookbook if you ever had one.

    Ps: I tried to rate this 5 stars and it would only allow me to choose up to 4, fyi

  • […] Quinoa Pasta Salad This “pasta” salad is made without the pasta.  Quinoa is used in its place.  Fresh […]

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