Red Quinoa Salad

Another Concept Recipe, Make It Your Way

A healthy grain salad recipe that starts with red quinoa (don't worry, regular white quinoa works too, so would another grain), a few vegetables for crunch, a sprinkle of fresh herbs for brightness, a handful of feta cheese for creaminess, all tossed in an easy vinaigrette. This will be my go-to salad for the summer, protein-packed, fiber-good and eminently variable. But make it your way, it's a "concept recipe" — easily adapted to what you like, what's seasonal in your world, what you have on hand, what sounds good to you!

Red Quinoa Salad Your Way, another healthy concept recipe ♥ Gluten Free. Weight Watchers Friendly.
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First published in 2010, updated and republished in 2019.

Early Spring, Early Salads

Spring’s come early to Missouri this year. In the country, the redbud appears especially pink against the dark green needles of the cedars, too bad the evergreens are invasive, the scourge of the Midwest. Here in the suburbs, the fern garden should be little more than fiddleheads, instead, full furls reach west to find full sun.

But mine’s a northern soul. When it’s 80-something already in April, the calendar feels all rushed. "Slow down!" I want to demand. We’ve not yet had spring and already it’s feeling a lot like July and a surly-hot summer.

The only consolation? Summer cooking is simple and spare, it takes just a spark of inspiration to throw together something for the grill, a salad from the garden, a fruity dessert. Last year I collected easy summer recipes all summer long. Already this year, my head and my grocery list are headed back that way. Come along, won’t you?

Red Quinoa Salad Your Way, another healthy concept recipe ♥ Gluten Free. Weight Watchers Friendly.

What Is Red Quinoa?

Quinoa (it's pronounced KEEN-wa) is a high-protein grain that originates in the Andes Mountains of Peru although these days is raised across the world. It cooks quickly and is easily digestible, it's also gluten-free and considered a complete protein.

Red Quinoa on the left, Regular Quinoa on the right ♥

It comes in two variations, red and white. While I love the drama of red quinoa's nutty-red color, it tastes just like the easier-to-find white quinoa.

Red quinoa is just now showing up in St. Louis, I've found it at Global Foods in Kirkwood. Otherwise, look for regular quinoa beside other grains at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and natural food stores. If your grocer carries Bob's Red Mill, look for quinoa there, or ask your grocer to order it.

RESOURCES For more information about healthy grains, see this great guide to grains from Culinate.


Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 35 minutes
Makes 5 cups
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup quinoa, red or white, rinsed (what is quinoa?)
    ADD-INs (for example)
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 8 halves sun-dried tomatoes, sliced in thin lengths
  • 8 halves dried apricots, sliced in thin lengths
  • Half an English cucumber, diced small
  • 8 olives, halved
  • 1 tablespoon fresh herbs
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 - 4 tablespoons good vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon good mustard
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Fresh greens for serving

QUINOA Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa and cook on medium heat until the quinoa fully cooks and the water cooks off, 15 – 20 minutes. If needed, drain. Stir a bit to help cool.

ADD-INs Prep the vegetables and collect in a large bowl. For the moment, leave the feta aside.

VINAIGRETTE In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients.

SERVE & SAVOR Stir the quinoa into the vegetables, add the vinaigrette and gently stir in the feta. Best served immediately but can be refrigerated to serve later, but save the feta to stir in just before serving. Serve atop fresh greens.

ALANNA's TIPS Red Quinoa Salad is a concept salad, begging for adaptation depending on what’s in season and what’s on hand. So do make it "your way". Start with quinoa – or heavens, choose another grain, barley, kashi or couscous, even brown rice. Have fun with the add-ins, my choices slant to the Mediterranean but don’t stop there. Just be sure to include the sharpness of some onion, a small dice of red onion or a sweet onion, say. You’ll also want something wet and something crunchy, something salty like olives or capers, something slightly sweet like fruit. Because it's so easy, so flexible, Red Quinoa Salad makes its way to our table every few weeks, it's definitely a year-round kitchen staple. My husband is an avowed meat eater and always finds himself surprised to find that this salad so filling and satisfying!
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per main dish serving: 241 Calories; 8g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 10mg Cholesterol; 215mg Sodium; 34g Carb; 5g Fiber; 8g Sugar; 9g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 5 & PointsPlus 6 & SmartPoints 8 & Freestyle 4 CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = scant half cup (1g protein). This recipe has been "Alanna-sized" with reductions in fat.
While our salads look not the least bit alike, mine is inspired by a red quinoa salad from Tara Austen Weaver, author of the beautiful blog Tea & Cookies (sorry, not currently active) and the just-published book, The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis.

More Ways to Cook with Quinoa

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf Quinoa & Black Bean Salad Brown Rice & Quinoa Rice Pudding
~ more quinoa recipes ~
~ more concept recipes ~

Salad for Supper?

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Chicken Greek Salad Shrimp Salad Recipes Tropical Pork Tenderloin
~ more cold supper recipes ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ quinoa ~
~ sun-dried tomatoes ~
~ dried apricots ~
~ cucumber ~
~ olives ~
~ cheese ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2010, 2017 & 2019 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Nice to see another quinoa salad recipe! I've blogged about two different ones myself recently, and have also bought a packet of red quinoa. Perfect for Alanna's salad :)

  2. I've never used the red quinoa. I must pick some up. Looks delicous!

  3. Hi Alanna! Thanks SO much for the tip on poppy seeds! They are so expensive... I will stock up on a huge bag :)

    Btw, love your site. I'm totally adding it to my google reader right now.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna