Here’s a bright, vibrant salad with summer written all over it! Protein-packed Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with grilled vegetables has fresh herbs, a lively lemon and olive oil dressing, and tangy feta cheese. It’s perfect for entertaining or a healthful grab-and-go lunch!
Why This Recipe is a Keeper!
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with grilled vegetables is a salad you’ll want to make all summer long! It has all the best, bright summery flavors with a touch of healthy!
Protein-packed gluten-free quinoa, smoky grilled vegetables, fresh herbs, a lively lemon and olive oil vinaigrette and tangy feta cheese are irresistible together in this vibrant, colorful Mediterranean-inspired salad.
This bright, beautiful Mediterranean Quinoa Salad makes a showstopping side dish for a cookout or poolside entertaining and is perfect for a healthy grab-and-go lunch!
Let’s make it!
How to Make Mediterranean Quinoa Salad:
Here’s everything you’ll need to make this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad recipe, along with how to prep the ingredients. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:
- Quinoa: Quinoa is actually a seed from an annual flowering plant in the amaranth family. Considered a whole grain, it’s exceptionally nutritious and high in plant-based protein, fiber, iron and a wide range of amino acids and vitamins. Although numerous varieties exist, the most common types readily available at most markets are white, red and black. Here’s more information on the nutrition of quinoa from Medical News Today.
- Olive Oil: No need to use your best olive oil; a good everyday extra-virgin olive oil will do.
- Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice is always best!
- Feta Cheese: Buy a block of feta cheese and crumble it yourself. Pre-crumbled feta cheese can sometimes be crumbled too fine, resulting in feta cheese that looks like white dust on your salad. This recipe can be made vegan by using vegan feta cheese such as Violife.
- Kalamata Olives: Pitted and also pitted and halved Kalamata olives are available at most markets. However, just because they’re labeled “pitted” and or “pitted and halved” doesn’t mean the mechanical pitter didn’t miss one or two. Buy whole pitted Kalamata olives, then cut them in half so you can inspect each one. The olives also look nicer in your salad than something mechanically halved.
- Gather and prep all the ingredients.
- First, you’ll need to rinse the quinoa because it contains a bitter coating called saponin. Place it in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cool running tap water for a minute or two. Let that drain.
- Combine water, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some black pepper to a boil.
- Add the rinsed quinoa, return to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 12 to 15 minutes or until water is almost absorbed and the germ of the quinoa (the little curly thing) is beginning to appear.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover and let it sit for 10-12 minutes. Fluff with a fork, transfer to a large bowl and let cool.
- While the quinoa is cooling, grill the vegetables.
- Cut the zucchini and yellow squash into three thick “planks” each and cut the bell pepper into thick strips.
- Toss with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.
- Grill on the stovetop on a grill pan or on an outdoor grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until nicely marked and the vegetables are just tender. The squash should be easily pierced with a knife.
- Cut the squash into pieces as desired and cut the bell pepper strips into three pieces widthwise.
- Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt and black pepper to taste.
- Combine the quinoa, olives, feta cheese, scallions, mint and parsley in a bowl.
- Add the vegetables, the dressing, toss it all together and voila! Mediterranean Quinoa Salad!
- Adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper to taste, add an extra squeeze of lemon juice for more zing or tone it down with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Garnish with fresh parsley sprigs and serve.
Chef Tips and Tricks:
- When I make this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad recipe for clients, I leave off the feta cheese and only add a small amount of dressing to flavor the quinoa and keep it moist. When the client is ready to enjoy, they can add the feta cheese and the rest of the dressing (or as much as they want).
- Pre-crumbled feta cheese can sometimes be crumbled too fine, resulting in feta cheese that looks like white dust on your salad. Buy a block of feta cheese and crumble it yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Quinoa has a bitter coating called saponin, a built-in defense mechanism to deter birds and insects. Fortunately, this bitter coating is easily rinsed off under running tap water. Ancient Harvest is pre-rinsed and cooks up beautifully.
Although both are considered “whole grains” and gluten-free, quinoa has more protein than rice and slightly more fiber than white and brown rice. Quinoa has fewer calories and carbohydrates, with more nutrients overall.
Probably because of too much water. Although I frequently cook quinoa for clients, I’ve found it challenging to cook it right by following the instructions on most brands of quinoa.
Typically, the instructions say to rinse to remove the bitter coating known as saponin, add it to boiling water in a 2:1 ratio, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. The result I got was usually undercooked quinoa with water remaining in the pot or not very fluffy quinoa.
The method I’ve found that works better is:
–Use the 2:1 water-to-quinoa ratio, but then…
–Leave the cover off while it’s simmering so I can watch it. Some of the water will have boiled OUT.
–After about 12 to 15 minutes when much of the water has been absorbed or cooked out and the “germ” begins to appear THEN cover it.
–Take it off the heat and let it stand for 10 to 12 minutes. With this method, I now end up with fluffy quinoa every time!
Yes, absolutely! Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut the vegetables into bite-size pieces, toss with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Roast until the vegetables can be pierced with a paring knife but still have some “bite.”
- Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak with Peperonata
- Easy Skillet Mediterranean Chicken
- Pesto and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken with Roma Tomatoes
- Turkish Turkey Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Tzatziki
- Mediterranean Fish en Papillote
More summery Mediterranean-inspired salads you’ll love!
- Mediterranean Barley Salad
- Mediterranean Farro Salad
- Tunisian Salad Platter
- Sicilian Cauliflower Salad
Get all my side salad recipes at: Side Dishes – Salads – From A Chef’s Kitchen
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Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
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- 2 cups water - or as needed
- Zest of 1 large lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil - or as needed, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup quinoa - rinsed
- 2 small zucchini - cut into 3 planks each lengthwise
- 2 small yellow squash - cut into 3 planks each lengthwise
- 1 medium red bell pepper - seeds and membranes removed, cut into thick slices
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper - seeds and membranes removed, cut into thick slices
- 1 bunch medium-sized scallions - white and light green part only, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley - plus sprigs for garnish
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese - or more if desired
- 1/3 cup lemon juice - (approximately 2 large lemons)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
- Bring water, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper to a boil.
- Add quinoa, return to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 12-15 minutes or until water is almost absorbed and the germ of the quinoa is beginning to appear.
- Remove from heat, cover and let stand 10-12 minutes. Fluff with a fork, transfer to a large bowl and let cool.
- Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.
- Brush the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Grill 3-4 minutes per side or to desired doneness. Let cool.
- Combine quinoa, scallions, parsley, mint, olives and feta cheese and gently stir to combine.
- Slice the zucchini and yellow squash into 1-inch pieces widthwise and cut the bell peppers into three pieces each widthwise. Add to quinoa combination.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Pour desired amount over salad and stir to combine. Adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper or more lemon juice.
- Serve garnished with parsley sprigs.
These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.