This simple recipe serves as a reminder for me not to over-complicate food - simplicity, when done well, is perfection itself! The herbs and toasted pumpkin seeds are really the heroes of this lovely light and fresh salad with colourful little cubes of red pepper and the deliciously flavoured, nutritious quinoa.
I posted this recipe when I first started the blog but I decided recently that the photos were not good enough. When I re-photographed it, I was reminded of just how delicious this salad is and thought I should probably re-post it with the new photos instead! Over the last six months since writing this recipe, I have made plenty of quinoa salads (it is quite the staple for my weekday lunches) but they usually involve using up leftover roasted vegetables or tossing quinoa together with lots of different ingredients to clear out whatever is lurking at the bottom of the fridge.
The recipe below is really a loose guide and can be adapted as you please. The basis is some quinoa cooked in a little vegetable stock with garlic and mixed with some finely chopped vegetables. It’s livened up with a spritz of lemon juice and a good dose of chopped herbs. Then a final crunch is added on top with the toasted pumpkin seeds, which also add zinc – good for boosting the immune system.
The variations are endless:
- Add zingy pomegranate seeds,
- Swap the pumpkin seeds for pine nuts or other seeds of choice
- Add sumac and cumin for more middle eastern flavours
- It can be served as a side salad in a meal with lots of dishes or as a dish in its own right for a light lunch.
I think its adaptability is really the jewel in its crown and the reason why I turn to it so frequently when I need to make something to eat. Add to that its portability – this quinoa salad can be carted to picnics or taken to the office for lunch and eaten without mess and without gluten so it is my standard sandwich alternative for picnic food. If you want to really bulk it up, add some crispy salt and pepper tofu pieces or a drizzle of pomegranate molasses on top to take it to another level!
This delightful quinoa salad is good enough to stand on its own as a meal in itself but it also works really well as part of a picnic spread or as a side dish. It would go really well with the juicy and sweet Mediterranean Roasted Red Peppers and maybe a crisp green salad or my Middle Eastern Rocket Salad with Sumac and Pomegranate and some crusty gluten-free bread, or you could serve it with some crispy tofu cubes to add more protein to the dish.
Other Grain Salads
I do love a grain salad for its versatility! They are a doddle to make and they bulk up well being perfect for feeding a crowd at a party. They're usually very portable as well so they make great work packed lunches or picnic dishes too! Try out these other delicious grain salads from my blog:
Recipe Card 📖
Herby Quinoa Salad
- 80 g quinoa well rinsed
- 160 ml water
- 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ red onion finely diced
- ¼ cucumber finely diced
- ½ red pepper finely diced
- 2 tbsp fresh mint chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- ½ lemon (juice only)
- 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 10 g pumpkin seeds (for garnish)
- Put the quinoa, water, stock powder and garlic into a pan. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down to low, put the lid on and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa has only a slight bite to it.80 g quinoa, 160 ml water, 1 tsp vegetable stock powder, 2 garlic cloves
- Meanwhile, finely dice the vegetables, chop the herbs and juice the lemon.½ red onion, ¼ cucumber, ½ red pepper, 2 tbsp fresh mint, 2 tbsp fresh parsley, ½ lemon (juice only)
- When the quinoa is cooked through, drain any excess water (if any) and mix it together with all the other ingredients in a bowl! Season to taste with salt and pepper.2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
- Fry the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan until they start to pop. (Keep a very close eye on this as it happens quite quickly and will burn if you don’t remove it fairly promptly). Then pour the toasted pumpkin seeds over the top of the salad.10 g pumpkin seeds
- This is a very adaptable recipe. I sometimes add cherry tomatoes, halved, or pomegranate seeds, or pine nuts or sunflower seeds in place of the pumpkin seeds. It is also delicious served with a dollop of yoghurt with a little harissa stirred into it.
- During lockdown, when I was not going to the shops so often, I started trying to preserve my fresh herbs by whizzing them in a blender with olive oil. Depending on the herb (parsley and chives work particularly well), the herb oil keeps quite nicely in a jar in the fridge for a week or so. I now rather like it for its ease of use so I often substitute the oil and fresh parsley for my herb oil instead.
If you like this recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free lunch recipes too:
I’d love to know how you get on with this herby quinoa salad recipe. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and please give it a star rating too! Thank you!