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.

quinoa pasta salad in a bowl

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.

bowl of quinoa pasta salad

4.6 from 10 votes
Print
Quinoa "Pasta" Salad
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

This tasty quinoa dish is a perfect addition to any meal and is great for packing in lunches!

Course: Salad
Servings: 4
Calories: 495 kcal
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
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?

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Comments

Sarah

I’ve made sooo many of your recipes but I don’t think I’ve ever commented! Made this tonight for the first time and we LOVED it!

Megan

So delicious! The first time I’ve had quinoa and actually enjoyed it!

Amy

Oh Megan…there are too many good options on this site to make for meal preps I’m always so overwhelmed!! I also own your cookbook which makes things even harder. I keep going back to it thinking “oh I need to make THIS or THAT because it’s a little gem not found online.” My mind is always changing with what I am going to make from your recipes. Okay I plan on making this dish on Sunday to take for work lunches all week however I also have a head of cauliflower I was saving to make your “fried rice” so now I’m stumped! Should I do a pizza crust, garlic fingers, mashed “potatoes,” stay with the rice option? SO MANY CHOICES AGHHHHHH lol

Caren

Hi Megan,
Thank you for this amazing recipe! I used whole wheat orzo pasta and added a can of garbanzo beans and a can of artichoke hearts. It was soooo good!

Megan

This is my all time favorite way to eat quinoa! I’ve made this many times and love it so much each time. Even my 2 year old loves it. All the fresh ingredients are very refreshing. Just wanted to comment and say thanks.

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