This Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is loaded with fiber and protein-rich quinoa, beans, and fresh vegetables. This salad is perfect served as a healthy side dish or as a satisfying meal on its own. This easy recipe is gluten-free and vegetarian.
If you’re looking for delicious and stunning salad ideas, add this quinoa salad with feta to the list!
This dish is a mix of fluffy quinoa and tangy feta cheese tossed with beans, a blend of crisp veggies, fresh herbs, and simple citrus and olive oil dressing.
It’s a great side dish for dinner parties, potlucks, and BBQs and makes a fantastic healthy lunch.
This recipe yields six servings, but that’s okay. Quinoa salad leftovers are the best! As the ingredients sit and mingle overnight, the salad tastes even better the next day.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s insanely delicious! You get a little bit of every flavor with each bite.
- This easy quinoa salad tastes even better made a day in advance.
- This recipe is gluten-free and vegetarian. Skip the feta cheese to make it vegan.
- You can also customize this salad and make it your own.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Quinoa: Though technically a seed, quinoa is considered a whole grain. It is an excellent source of fiber, minerals, and plant-based protein. Feel free to use white, red, or black quinoa (or a little of each). White quinoa is soft and fluffy, while red and black have a chewier texture.
- Red Beans: Red beans are a great source of potassium, iron, plant protein, and fiber. Red kidney beans are similar nutritionally and in taste and texture.
- English Cucumber: English cucumbers retain less moisture than garden cucumbers, so they stay crunchy. If you use a regular cucumber, scoop the seeds and watery center out before chopping.
- Red Bell Pepper: You can also use orange and yellow bell peppers or mix them for more vibrant colors.
- Radishes: Crunchy radishes will add a sharp, spicy flavor to the salad.
- Red Onion: Sliced thin, you get the perfect bit of mild, sweet onion flavor with each bite.
- Cherry or Grape Tomatoes: If you have any roasted or sun-dried tomatoes on hand, those are great to toss in.
- Fresh Herbs: I used parsley to liven up all of the flavors. Fresh basil, dill, and oregano are great here as well.
- Feta Cheese: Feta is creamy, tangy, and perfectly salty. Goat cheese is a great alternative.
- Dressing: The colorful vegetables, herbs, and feta are loaded with flavor, so you won’t need anything more than fresh lemon juice and olive oil. You can also use flaxseed, avocado, or walnut oil.
Cooking Quinoa for Salads
- Rinse quinoa and soak it in cold water for 30 minutes to 4 hours. Drain and rinse well one more time. This will help to get rid of any leftover saponin residue (a natural insect repellent) that leaves a bitter taste. You can skip soaking if you don’t mind a slightly bitter taste of quinoa.
- Then, place the quinoa and twice as much water in a small saucepan.
- Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
- Store cooked quinoa in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
How To Make a Healthy Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Once you’ve prepped your veggies and the quinoa is cooked and cooled, the salad is a cinch to assemble:
- Add the ingredients: Add the red beans, cucumber, red bell pepper, radishes, onion, cherry tomatoes, parsley, feta cheese, and quinoa in a large salad bowl.
- Toss with the dressing: Then, add the olive oil and lemon juice. Toss to combine -and that’s it!
Boil quinoa in chicken or vegetable broth to deepen the flavor.
I didn’t need to season with salt or pepper because feta is salty and rich. Only season with salt and pepper after tossing everything together and giving it a taste.
If you can find heirloom cherry tomatoes, they’ll make this salad even more colorful and delicious!
- Beans – Don’t have any red beans on hand? Feel free to use canned chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, or pinto beans.
- Whole grains – Have had enough of quinoa? Other healthy grains such as farro or bulgur will also taste great in this salad.
- Herbs – Love fresh herbs? Dill or basil will add a unique flavor to this salad.
- Tomatoes – Don’t have any red cherry tomatoes? Use regular tomatoes instead or buy yellow cherry tomatoes to make the salad even more colorful.
- Garlic – Love garlic? This salad will definitely benefit from adding one or two garlic cloves.
- Leafy greens – Toss in a handful of chopped kale, baby spinach, or peppery arugula for added fiber and crisp veggies.
- More Mediterranean flavor – For more flavor add pitted kalamata olives, toasted pinenuts, anchovies, marinated artichoke hearts, and roasted red peppers.
- Dressing – Want to experiment with dressing? Try adding balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar instead of lemon juice. And what about the oil? Olive oil is always great, and you can also try flaxseed, avocado, or walnut oil.
- Protein – The quinoa in this salad makes it a hearty meal on its own. If you’d like to add more protein, try it with grilled shrimp, salmon, or chicken.
The fresh Mediterranean quinoa salad is best kept in a shallow airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. To make it last 1 to 2 days longer, toss with only half of the dressing and then add more to individual servings as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a good substitute for quinoa in salads?
Instead of quinoa, feel free to use cooked and cooled couscous, barley, bulgur, or millet.
Can you put raw quinoa in a salad?
No! Uncooked quinoa doesn’t have a great taste or texture.
What is the best quinoa to use in salads?
White quinoa is soft and delicate, and red and black have a firmer, chewier texture. Typically white quinoa pairs better with crunchy salad ingredients but feel free to use whichever you prefer.
More Healthy Salad Recipes
- Beet Quinoa Salad
- Healthy Cabbage Salad
- Detox Kale & Beet Salad
- Mediterranean Tomato Salad
- Red Bean Salad
- 3/4 cup quinoa (or about 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa)
- 1 can (540ml/19 oz) red beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 English cucumber, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and julienned
- 6 radishes, chopped
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, loosely packed
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
For the Dressing:
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- To cook quinoa, rinse and soak it in cold water for 30 minutes to 4 hours. Drain and rinse well one more time. This will help to get rid of any left-over saponin residue (a natural insect repellent) that gives a bitter taste.
- Place 3/4 cup quinoa and 1 1/2 cup water into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes or until quinoa is fluffy and has absorbed all of the liquid. Let it cool.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the red beans, cucumber, red bell pepper, radishes, onion, cherry tomatoes, parsley, feta cheese, and cooked quinoa.
- Add the olive oil and lemon juice and toss to combine.
1. I don't add salt to this salad because feta is usually pretty salty.
2. This salad keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1/6 of recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 338Total Fat 14.5gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8.3gCholesterol 22.3mgSodium 449.8mgCarbohydrates 39gFiber 8gSugar 7.1gProtein 14.7g
Nutrition facts provided on this website are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a qualified health care provider for personalized diet advice and make sure that each of the ingredients is allowed in your diet.