Mediterranean Quinoa and Grilled Vegetable Salad has high-protein quinoa, vegetables, fresh herbs, a lively lemon and olive oil dressing and feta cheese that’s perfect all summer long. It’s a great way to use leftover grilled vegetables.
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.
The method I’ve found that works better …… is to leave the cover off while it’s simmering so I can watch it. After about 15 to 17 minutes when much of the water has been absorbed or cooked out and the “germ” begins to appear is when I cover it. I take it off the heat and let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Quinoa is cooked when the germ has been fully released and it’s fluffy and tender. The brand I prefer is Ancient Harvest. It’s a bit more expensive, however, it’s prerinsed and always cooks up perfectly.
Fully cooked quinoa is available in the freezer section near the vegetables at many grocery stores. Couscous or orzo may be substituted for the quinoa.
If you have leftover grilled vegetables from another meal, this salad is a great way to use them. If outdoor grilling is not an option, a grill pan works just as well, as does roasting the vegetables.
We like our salads with more dressing so this dressing recipe makes a generous amount. Use as much as you like. If you plan to make the salad ahead of time, stir in a small amount of the dressing to flavor it and keep it moist. When ready to serve, add more dressing as desired.
Perfect for lunch, as a side dish to accompany grilled meats, poultry or seafood or as a light supper with a chilled soup.
This light, refreshing Mediterranean-inspired salad of high-protein quinoa, vegetables, fresh herbs, a lively lemon and olive oil dressing and feta cheese is perfect all summer long. It's a great way to use leftover grilled vegetables.
15 minPrep Time
45 minCook Time
1 hrTotal Time
2 cups water
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for grilling vegetables
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 small yellow squash, halved lengthwise
1 small eggplant, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
1 small red bell pepper, cut into thick slices
4 scallions, white and light green part only, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (or more if desired)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring water, lemon zest, olive oil and salt and black pepper to a boil. Add quinoa, return to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15-17 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 well with salt and black pepper. Grill 3-4 minutes per side or to desired doneness. Let cool.
When vegetables have cooled, cut the eggplant rounds in half into half moons and slice the zucchini into 1-inch pieces. Add to quinoa.
Add parsley, chives, mint and feta cheese to quinoa and gently stir to combine.
Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Pour desired amount over salad and stir to combine.
MAKE AHEAD: Can be assembed 1 day ahead of time. Drizzle a small amount of dressing over the salad and refrigerate. When ready to serve, add the feta cheese and add remaining dressing as desired.