This Mediterranean quinoa salad recipe is hearty, healthy, and packed with fresh flavor! Serve it as a side dish, or enjoy it as a meal on its own.
With Labor Day right around the corner, I thought that it’d be the perfect time to share this Mediterranean quinoa salad recipe. If you have a cookout or picnic coming up this weekend, this quinoa salad would be a delicious addition to the menu. It could easily pass as a side dish, but it’s so hearty and flavorful that it could be the main event, too. And if you happen to have leftovers, you’re in luck! This quinoa salad keeps well if you make it ahead of time, so it’s a great recipe to meal prep for healthy lunches throughout the week.
Over the years, I’ve shared lots of quinoa salad recipes on the blog, but I’m especially smitten with this one. A host of late summer veggies and herbs pack it with fresh flavor, and a simple Italian dressing makes it nice and bright. I hope you love it too!
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Mediterranean quinoa salad recipe:
- Quinoa, of course! 1 cup dry quinoa yields 3 cups cooked. Find my go-to method for how to cook quinoa here.
- Roasted cherry tomatoes – They add rich savory flavor and yummy chewy texture to this salad. You’ll need to roast them for a couple of hours on low heat, until they shrivel around the edges, so be sure to plan ahead.
- Persian cucumbers – For crunch!
- Red onion – For sharp depth of flavor.
- Feta cheese – I love its creamy texture and tangy flavor in this quinoa salad recipe, but feel free to skip it if you’re vegan.
- Kalamata olives – I’m an olive convert! For years, I avoided olives, but their briny, salty flavor takes this salad to a whole new level.
- Toasted pine nuts and roasted chickpeas – They add protein, nutty flavor, and lots of crunch.
- Arugula and mixed herbs – They make this salad nice and fresh! I like to use a variety of leafy herbs here, such as mint, parsley, oregano, thyme, and/or basil.
- Italian dressing – Bright, tangy, and flecked with (more) herbs, it ties the whole salad together!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
Quinoa Salad Variations
This healthy quinoa salad recipe is delicious as-written, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play with it! Have fun customizing it based on what you’re craving or what you have on hand. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Make it vegan. Skip the cheese! Add a few extra olives or roasted tomatoes to amp up the savory flavor, and serve the salad with sliced avocado, a big scoop of hummus, or dollops of vegan pesto.
- Switch the grain. Instead of quinoa, use farro or Israeli couscous. It won’t be a quinoa salad anymore, but it’ll still taste delicious.
- Swap the dressing. Replace the Italian dressing with Greek salad dressing or lemon vinaigrette.
- Mix up the veggies. Substitute chopped spinach or massaged kale for the arugula, or skip the greens entirely. Instead, stir in a cup of roasted broccoli or 1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers.
- Try a different cheese. Don’t like feta? Crumbled goat cheese would be great here too.
Let me know what variations you try!
Best Quinoa Salad Recipe Tips
- Cook the quinoa ahead of time. The quinoa should be cool or at room temperature when you toss this salad together. If it’s too warm, it’ll wilt the arugula and fresh herbs. Instead of cooking it when you’re ready to assemble the salad, cook it at least an hour and up to 2 days in advance. And while you’re at it, roast the tomatoes! They’ll need to bake for 2.5-3 hours to get really tart and chewy.
- Pack it for lunch. This Mediterranean quinoa salad is a fantastic make-ahead lunch! It keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days, so make a big batch for lunches all week. For the best flavor, store some of the fresh herbs separately and scatter them on right before you eat. I also recommend seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, and/or an extra squeeze of lemon juice after this salad has spent a few days in the fridge. Check out this post for more of my best meal prep tips and this one for more healthy lunch ideas!
- Or enjoy it for dinner. Serve this quinoa salad recipe as a side dish with classic cookout fare like veggie burgers, black bean burgers, portobello mushroom burgers, or BBQ jackfruit sandwiches. It’s also a lovely vegetarian main dish. Round out the meal with grilled veggie skewers, grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, or sautéed yellow squash.
More Favorite Hearty Salads
If you love this easy, healthy quinoa salad recipe, try one of these hearty salads next:
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- Easy Pasta Salad
- Best Broccoli Salad
- Niçoise Salad
- Curried Lentil Salad
- Cherry Tomato Couscous Salad
- Kale Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing
- Or any of these 37 Best Salad Recipes!
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- 3 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 recipe Roasted Tomatoes
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 cup sliced Persian cucumbers
- 1 cup mixed basil & mint
- ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ¾ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
- ½ cup diced red onion
- ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 recipe Italian Dressing, plus 2 additional garlic cloves, grated
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinches of red pepper flakes
- 1 cup roasted chickpeas
- In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, roasted tomatoes, arugula, cucumbers, herbs, feta, olives, onion, and pine nuts.
- Toss to combine, then drizzle with the dressing and toss again. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and a few pinches of red pepper flakes, and toss again. Top with the roasted chickpeas and serve.
Absolutely amazing! Used red quinoa and spinach and left out the olives. Also used a bit of fresh oregano instead of basil and mint, and a few other substitutions. Used store-bought tuscan italian dressing and it turned out perfect! Cannot recommend this enough.
I made this recipe a couple days ago, and I was supposed to share with my family, but I ate it all myself–it’s absolutely delicious! I took out the onions (I love the taste, but they don’t agree with my GI) and used a lemon poppy-seed dressing from Target. The salty/savory flavors from the salad and the sweetness of the dressing are a unique but complimentary marriage of flavors.
Hi Sara, I’m so glad you loved the salad!
This recipe is phenomenal. I used tri-color quinoa and omitted the roasted chickpeas due to time. The roasted tomatoes and the vinaigrette are next level. Will definitely be making this again.
Hi Gretchen, I’m so glad you loved it so much!
While this salad seemed to have so many components (I started the tomatoes first thing in the morning and was still chopping several hours later) it was well worth the effort. So balanced and with a treat in every bite. I served this as a side to a Moroccan style meal and everyone loved it. Next time I would make the tomatoes and grains (I used pearled couscous) in advance. The dressing was also excellent and roasted cherry tomatoes are also worth the time and effort to make them–they are similar to sun dried tomatoes but not as sweet and still packed with flavor. Another winner!
Hi Ali, I’m so glad everyone loved it and that it was worth the effort! Great tip about cooking the grain in advance.
Hello, is this a cold salad / served cold?
So tasty and delicious.
Thank you for sharing your recipes.
I replaced the Quinoa in this salad with Browntop millet. It was the tastiest salad I have ever eaten! Your recipe is amazing.
I’m so glad you loved it!
Oh my goodness this salad is heaven! I took it to a small gathering and everyone loved it. I followed the recipe exactly and it was fabulous. I will be making this many times over again.
I loved this salad- and have made it 2x since I got the recipe. The first time I made it I made it exactly as the recipe states. The second time I added poblano and red peppers/ diced grilled eggplant and some of your amazing hummus. Everything from the farmers market! yum!
Yay, I’m so glad you’ve been loving it and the hummus! Sounds so delicious with the peppers and eggplant.
Full of flavor! Serendipitously, I had leftover quinoa in the frig when your post came up. And basil & mint in the garden and tomatoes drying in sun in the low-tech air dryer. I used my almost dry tomatoes and followed the rest of the recipe. WOW, was it good. It did take a while to prep, but so worth it.
I’m making it for a pot luck next week. Can’t wait to have it again!
Hi Cathy, I’m so glad you loved the salad!
Do you have calorie information for this quinoa dish?
I’m sorry, I don’t calculate nutritional info.
Looks wonderful but I am confused about the 2 hour cook time that is listed. Is that accurate?
Hi Roxane, it’s the slow roasted tomatoes – you can make them up to 3 days in advance and keep them in the fridge. Then the recipe is pretty speedy after that.
Oh thanks, I had no idea that roasting tomatoes took that long but now I see—very low heat and a longer time to roast makes it turn out better. Unfortunately here in AZ the land of triple digits and triple digit teens, the slow roasting would be not the greatest thing to do energy and electricity wise…….perhaps if we ever get cooler which is debatable as we set records each month this summer and the forecast is for much hotter than normal fall temps.
You could also try jarred sun dried tomatoes, I just haven’t tested what ratio would be best (probably around 3/4 cup to 1 cup) and how the salt measurement might change.
thanks that is a great idea!
Another winner!!! I AM an Italian and I LOVE this dressing. The dressing and salad contain so many wonderful elements of the home of my ancestors. I must admit I’m not fond of quinoa. I really like farro and am always looking for new ways to enjoy it, so I subbed it here and it was awesome! I’ll be making it again and again. Thanks so much for sharing your love of food and your creativity.
Hi Janice, I’m so glad you loved the salad! I love farro so much, I bet it was delicious 🙂