Universally Awesome Quinoa Salad (3 Flavor Profiles from One Base)

basic cooking, grain basics, quinoa, salad, vegan -

Universally Awesome Quinoa Salad (3 Flavor Profiles from One Base)

Queen-Noah was the name of the Ark. Quinoa, pronounced Keen-wah, is not a boat.  It is perhaps the most versatile and flippin’ delicious grain ever! If you've never cooked with it or seen it this may be a new adventure for you. It is slightly nutty flavored and mild with amazing texture. There's a full tutorial on how to cook it on our blog (here). Go check it out if you haven’t already. There are a couple of tricks to having it come out perfectly, but honestly, it's one of the easiest grains to prepare.


Grain surgery continues today and we want to share this wonderful summer salad that our staff chef has used for years in catering and restaurants, as well as at home. It's remarkably easy and we think it is perhaps our favorite summer salad.  It’s loaded with vegetables and crunch. The coolest part of this recipe? The salad base can be used to make 3 completely different killer-flavor profiled salads. It’s like Criminal Minds…but without all the psychos.  

Start by cooking a batch of Basic Quinoa.

Basic Quinoa

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 cups water

salt to taste


Directions: Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Combine water and salt in a 1 and a half quart (6 cups) capacity heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil. Add the grain, cover the pot, and turn the burner to the lowest setting. Cook covered without stirring for 20 minutes.  Fluff.


Universally Awesome Quinoa Salad Base

Cooked Quinoa (above, about 4 cups)

1 cup minced onion

1 ½ cup chopped red bell pepper

½ cup minced carrot

½ cup minced celery

1T minced garlic

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper


Directions:   In a large bowl, combine quinoa with all the remaining ingredients. Stir well.

Divide finished salad base evenly between 3 medium bowls (about 2 ½ cups per bowl). Chop your additional vegetables and herbs. 



1 bowl of quinoa salad, add:

1T Italian herbs

¼ cup parmesan (optional)

 ¼ cup olive oil

2T balsamic vinegar




1 bowl of quinoa salad Add:

 1 cup drained rinsed black beans

¼ cup minced cilantro

¼ cup chopped tomato

1T chili powder

 ¼ cup lime juice

 zest of 1 lime

1 diced avocado



1 bowl of quinoa salad Add:

 ½ cup sliced scallions

 ¼ cup minced cilantro

 1 small can of mandarin oranges, drained

3T soy sauce

1T minced fresh ginger

¼ cup lime juice

zest of one lime

 1 tsp hot chile paste

1T sesame oil


End note:

You can certainly use other cooked grains like wheat (Spelt or regular red or white wheat) barley, millet, or wild rice in place of the quinoa in the recipe. It's versatile for using with a mixed grain pilaf as the base.