Quinoa, a super grain from the South American Andes, is hitting the shelves in Western grocery stores. Quinoa has countless merits and is good for you in many ways. Recipes for quinoa salads are in particularly high demand as people are falling for this nutrient-dense food.
While having gained tremendous popularity in recent years, quinoa has been used by the Incas for multiple millennia. It’s not a new invention of the modern world but rather the rediscovery of an ancient staple.
Quinoa comes in many colors, ranging from black to red, to yellow, and white. It makes for a diverse and filling meal and is packed with fiber and nutrients. Quinoa is a plant-based protein and provides healthy grains to your diet.
There are many great recipes for a good quinoa salad – we picked out our top three for you: Tabbouleh with Quinoa, Quinoa Mediterranean Salad, and Quinoa with Chicken.
Getting hungry? I see. Let’s not make you wait then and dig in. Let’s start with why quinoa is so good for you and why you should start incorporating it into your diet.
Is Quinoa Good for You & Why Cook with It?
Yes, quinoa is extremely good for you. The list of reasons is long. There are countless perks to quinoa and why you should consider cooking with it. Recipes for quick quinoa salads are particularly popular.
Here are a few reasons why quinoa is so good for you:
(1) Quinoa is a Good Source of Fiber
Quinoa contains fiber and can contribute about 11% of your daily requirement of dietary fiber with just one serving (about ¼ cup dry quinoa or approximately ¾ cup cooked quinoa).
Why is fiber so important?
Well, fiber is crucial for your gut and makes you feel full more easily. Fiber typically also takes longer to digest which leaves you feeling full longer.
(2) Quinoa is Packed with Nutrients
Another bonus you get with quinoa is that it’s stacked full of valuable nutrients. For instance, quinoa is a great source of zinc and magnesium. But it also contributes to a good source of iron.
Quinoa is good for you as it provides you with a wide array of vitamins and nutrients. It’s a healthy food that you should definitely consider trying.
(3) Quinoa Makes for the Perfect Plant-Based (Vegan) Protein
Quinoa is a plant-based protein, making it perfect for vegans and vegetarians. In fact, quinoa can contain around 6 grams of protein per serving, contributing to your daily protein requirements.
If you’re vegan, you’ll find our recipes for quinoa salad especially intriguing. Maintaining a healthy protein intake can sometimes be challenging but quinoa can help.
Another reason why quinoa is good for you is that quinoa, which is referred to as a complete or near-complete protein, contains all nine essential amino acids that are vital for your body.
(4) Quinoa is Easy to Prepare and Cook
Quinoa is a healthy whole grain that adds a taste of earthiness to your meals. But most importantly, it’s easy to cook and can be prepared with minimal effort.
To start, use a 2:1 liquid to quinoa ratio. Bring to a boil and keep on low heat. Keep covered and allow for the quinoa to simmer for 15 minutes until cooked, or until liquid is fully absorbed. Fluff with a fork and serve. And voilà – your quinoa is ready!
Recipes for Quinoa Salad
Ready to indulge yourself in some fresh and healthy quinoa?
Here are some of the best recipes for quinoa salad you’ll absolutely love:
(1) Tabbouleh with Quinoa
Ever heard of Tabbouleh? It’s a Middle Eastern salad-type dish with lots of parsley, lemon, and garlic. Tabbouleh is nice and crisp, prepared with fresh garden vegetables. So, why not add quinoa to the mix too?
Tabbouleh with quinoa is easy to make and super DE-LI-COUS.
Here’s what you need for a big family bowl (recipe adapted from a couple cooks):
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 cucumber
- 5 tomatoes
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped fine
- 1 cup of dry quinoa, cooked (1 cup dry = 3 cups cooked)
- The juice of 1 to 2 freshly squeezed lemons
- 4 fresh garlic cloves, mashed (add more if you like a little extra flavor)
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions for Tabbouleh with Quinoa
- Cook the quinoa. Make sure it’s cooled off prior to mixing it in with the other ingredients.
- Chop up all the vegetables and the parsley. Make sure the parsley is very fine.
Tip: To prevent the Tabbouleh from becoming soggy, you can add salt to the tomatoes and drain the juice prior to mixing in with the other ingredients.
- Add the quinoa and mashed garlic to the bowl.
- Prepare and add the dressing:
- Squeeze 1 or 2 lemons for juice
- Add olive oil
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Mix thoroughly and let it sit for at least 2 hours or ideally overnight.
Tabbouleh with quinoa is perfect for a quick healthy lunch that doesn’t require any heating up. You can store it in the fridge for freshness. In fact, it tastes better the next day after the quinoa has absorbed all the flavor.
(2) Quinoa Mediterranean Salad
Here’s what you need (recipe adapted from Love & Lemons):
- 1 to 2 finely chopped onions
- One bunch of chopped and fresh scallions
- 2 cups of pre-boiled softened chickpeas
- ½ cucumber
- 2 cups of quinoa, cooked and cooled
- 1 cup of sundried tomatoes
- A handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup of cut black olives
- Feta cheese for extra flavor (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions for Quinoa Mediterranean Salad
- To keep this salad as fresh as possible, soak dried chickpeas in water overnight. They should be soft by the next morning and ready for you to use.
- Cook the quinoa using a 2:1 water to quinoa ratio. Bring to a boil and keep on low heat. Keep covered and allow for the quinoa to simmer for 15 minutes until cooked, or until liquid is fully absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
- Chop up the onions, scallions, and cucumber. Add the ingredients alongside the softened chickpeas into the bowl.
- Add a cup of sundried tomatoes and a good handful of cut basil leaves. Using fresh basil really helps infuse the salad with a strong flavor, especially in combination with sundried tomatoes.
- Cut up at least one cup of black olives and add feta cheese crumbs for extra saltiness.
- Add the olive oil and lemon juice.
- Mix in the cooled quinoa and stir thoroughly, adding salt and pepper as needed.
- Let it sit overnight and enjoy the Quinoa Mediterranean Salad the next day.
Quinoa Mediterranean Salad brings the spunk and spice of the Greek cuisine into your house. Fix yourself a plate and enjoy – Opa!
(3) Quinoa with Chicken
Maybe you’re a plant lover but don’t mind some extra meat every now and then. No worries! While quinoa can be used as vegan protein, it’s also for meat lovers. And one of these meat-eater-friendly recipes is quinoa with chicken.
So, what do you need to make some hearty quinoa with chicken?
Here’s our ingredient list (recipe adapted from Steph R on Allrecipes)
- 1 large boneless skinless chicken breast, diced
- 3 cups of quinoa, cooked (1 cup dry = 3 cups cooked)
- 2 cups of chicken broth
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, mashed
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup of pine nuts, roasted
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil for the pan
- Salt and paprika spice
Instructions for Quinoa with Chicken
- Cook the quinoa using a 2:1 chicken broth to quinoa ratio. Bring to a boil and keep on low heat. Keep covered and allow for the quinoa to simmer for 15 minutes until cooked, or until liquid is fully absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
- Fry the diced chicken breast in olive oil and add salt and paprika as needed.
- Chop up the onions and mash the garlic cloves. Sauté until translucent and slightly brown. Add the diced tomatoes and saute after the onions are already cooked.
- Add the cooked quinoa and the chicken to the onion/garlic/tomato mixture and add salt to taste.
- In a separate pan, roast pine nuts in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Frequently stir the nuts and leave the heat on low. Once crisp and brown, remove pine nuts from heat.
Mix the crisp pine nuts in with your quinoa-with-chicken dish to provide additional flavor.
Got a Favorite Recipe for Quinoa Salad Yet?
Did your mouth just fill with saliva too? Yea, well it’s not just you, my friend.
The earthiness of the quinoa goes so well with the crisp freshness of garden vegetables, you’ll love it. Pairing quinoa with raw vegetables also helps make it a nutrient-dense meal.
Ready to give this gluten-free grain a go? If so, hop on the quinoa train and we’ll take a ride together. Choo choo!