If you’re looking for a good powerhouse salad, this one fits the bill. We make this on a weekly basis and absolutely love it! You have the option to keep out the quinoa for a grain free salad! This recipe can easily be customized to your liking! Feel free to substitute any of the ingredients for your all of your favorites.
The components of this salad
The beauty of this salad is that once you gather and prepare the ingredients, it comes together in minutes! You can absolutely make modifications, but here are the ingredients we suggest using and why we love them for this delicious salad:
- Quinoa is a powerhouse grain. It deserves it’s own deep dive so keep reading to learn more about this incredible super food.
- Chickpeas are one of our favorite plant based proteins. This legume is a healthy source of fat and it carries a significant amount of protein and fiber.
- English cucumbers are sweeter than regular cucumbers, and are a great texture to balance out the grains in this dish. We find them to be the most refreshing component of this salad!
- Chopped red onions have a more intense flavor than other types of onions, especially in raw form. We recommend cutting them up small so that you don’t have any overpowering chunks of onion. If you’re looking for something more mild, shallots and yellow onions work well as a substitute!
- Kalamata olives are the briny ingredient that pull this salad together. They are tart and salty, and balance out the rest of the ingredients very well.
- Red bell peppers add just the right amount of crunch to this mediterranean salad. Compared to green bell peppers, red peppers are less bitter. You can easily swap in yellow bell peppers or orange bell peppers.
- Tomatoes, similar to cucumbers, add moisture and texture to this salad. Any tomato will do, but we prefer to use a plump tomato on the vine.
- Fresh herbs are a key component of this salad, and we find that a 50/50 split of cilantro and parsley rounds out the flavor composition. If you aren’t a fan of cilantro (or parsley) feel free to double up on one single herb instead.
- Lemon zest and lime juice help to balance out the flavors of this dish. A little citrus goes a long way, especially with this salad. Because we are using vinegar as well, the lemon zest is important to prevent that mouth-puckering acidity!
What is quinoa?
Quinoa is a superfood grain that is incredibly easy to make, and a great base for non-leafy salads! While there are over 100 different kinds of quinoa, the most common are red, black, and white.
Quinoa is packed with plant-based protein and has a super high fiber content. In fact, one serving of quinoa offers 15% of your daily fiber requirements (note that this value is an average and will vary based on height and weight). It is also a great source of iron and vitamin E.
Even if you are not vegetarian or vegan, it is important to get protein and iron from plant-based sources. It is the best way to have a healthy, balanced diet!
Should I use dried or canned chickpeas?
Like most legumes, chickpeas can be stored both dry or canned. Once dried chickpeas are rehydrated, there is no noticeable difference in flavor or texture compared to the canned version. So regardless of which you use, this recipe will turn out great!
The benefit of using canned chickpeas is that there is no preparation necessary, aside from draining the liquid in the can (also known as aquafaba). Canned chickpeas are fully hydrated and ready to use upon opening the can. The downside is that they do have a higher sodium content because of the liquid they are stored in.
Dried chickpeas, on the other hand, require a little more care and attention ahead of using them. You cannot eat dried chickpeas as they are, and will need to rehydrate them.
Luckily it is fairly simple to rehydrate dried chickpeas. All you will need to do is add dried chickpeas to a bowl, and fill the bowl with water. You want the water to come up at least an inch or two above the chickpeas. Leave the chickpeas to soak for at least 8 horus, but overnight is ideal. It’s important to note that dried chickpeas will triple in size when rehydrated, so make sure you are using a large enough bowl!
How to make our mediterranean quinoa salad
- Add the diced red onion and vinegar to a small bowl. Stir and set aside.
- Prep and cut the remaining fresh ingredients.
- Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer or chinois until the water runs clear. Add quinoa, water and a pinch of salt to a small stock pot. Bring the water up to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow the water to simmer. Cook the quinoa for about 15 minutes and then set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, add all of the chopped fresh ingredients.
- Then add the quinoa, lemon zest, lime juice, red onion and vinegar mixture, salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss the ingredients together thoroughly and taste. Feel free to adjust the seasoning and acidity at this time!
- Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water
- 16 oz canned chickpeas rinsed and drained
- 1 cup chopped and peeled english cucumber about 1 small or 1/2 large
- 2 tsp white vinegar
- 1/2 large chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
- 1 medium chopped red bell pepper
- 1 large tomato on the vine
- 3/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 3/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
- zest of 1 lemon or lime
- juice of 1 lime
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- In a small bowl add chopped red onion and vinegar. Stir and set aside while you chop the rest of the ingredients.
- In a fine mesh sieve rinse quinoa until water runs clear. Transfer the quinoa to a small pot. Add 1 cup water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Set aside until cool.
- Add all the chopped ingredients in a bowl.
- Add cooled quinoa, lemon zest, lime juice, red onion, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Stir everything together and check for seasoning.
- Serve room temperature or refrigerate until ready to serve.