I love a good quinoa salad. This one was inspired by a dish I had in Lisbon, Portugal. Quinoa is tossed with olives, pickled onions and lemony dressing, then topped with roasted spring vegetables and feta cheese. This is a great lunch salad for vegetable lovers and a perfect side dish for summer barbecues, picnics, potlucks and parties.
The food in Portugal was all-around spectacular with lots of fresh fish and seafood, amazing caldo verde, and a wonderful quinoa salad loaded with vegetables, that I wanted to recreate as soon as I got back home. I especially loved the surprise of the salty briny green olives and pickled onions mixed in with the quinoa.
By the way, the pickled red onions are surprisingly easy to make and they last for a couple of weeks in the fridge. They add delicious vinegary crunch to everything from burgers to enchiladas. So you might consider making a double batch.
What is Quinoa anyway?
Quinoa is a curiosity. It seems like a grain but it's not. Here are a few fun facts about quinoa:
- Quinoa is a seed, not a grain, and contains no gluten.
- Quinoa is an excellent source of high quality plant-based protein. It contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
- Quinoa is similar in calories and fiber to brown rice but contains significantly more protein, vitamins and micronutrients.
- Quinoa is a good source of vitamins and minerals, in particular: iron, thiamin, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and folate
How To Make This Quinoa Salad
This is a great dish for improvisation. Use your favorite veggies or whatever looks good at the market. I chose thin asparagus, baby carrots, tender stem broccoli and zucchini. Sugar snap peas, baby Brussels sprouts and spring onions would work well here, too.
- Make the Vinaigrette: Whisk up olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
- Cook the Quinoa: Follow the package instructions, adding a pinch or two of salt to the water. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl to cool.
- Pickle The Onions: Combine vinegar, sugar, water and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and pour over sliced red onions. Allow them to cool for 15-20 minutes while you roast the veggies.
- Roast the Vegetables: Toss the veggies with olive oil, season them with salt and pepper, and roast them at 400ºF or 20-25 minutes, until they are just tender but still have their bright color and some crunch. This can be done a few hours ahead.
- Assemble this salad: In a large bowl, toss the cooked quinoa, pickled onions, olives and chopped arugula (if using)with the vinaigrette. Top with roasted veggies and toss again. Transfer the salad to a platter and sprinkle generously with feta.
More hearty, veggie-packed salad recipes to try
- Out of This World Pasta Salad
- Mediterranean Rice Salad
- Lemony Pasta with Summer Vegetables
- Thai Noodle Salad Bowls with Spicy Peanut Dressing
Here's the recipe for roasted vegetable quinoa salad with feta. If you try this recipe I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think.Print
Quinoa Salad with Spring Vegetables and Feta
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4-5 1x
A hearty roasted vegetable quinoa salad that makes a good vegetarian lunch or a lovely side dish for barbecues, picnics, potlucks or parties. Easily made vegan by omitting the feta cheese.
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- several grinds of fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup raw quinoa, rinsed
- 1 small red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- ¾ cup water
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- 1 bunch of thin asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1 bunch of tender stem broccoli (broccolini)
- 1 small bunch slender young carrots, peeled. (see below for substitutions)
- 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise into ½-inch pieces.
- 3-4 handfuls of arugula roughly chopped (about one cup, packed), optional
- ¾ cup of pitted green olives, sliced or quartered
- 2 ounces (or more, to taste) of good quality feta cheese, roughly chopped or crumbled (½ cup)
You will need one or two rimmed baking sheets (veggies need to spread out in a single layer)
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk the lemon juice (2 tablespoons), mustard (1 teaspoon), salt (¼ teaspoon) and olive oil (2 tablespoons) until combined.
- To cook the quinoa, follow the package instructions, adding a pinch or two of salt to the cooking water. Transfer cooked quinoa to a large mixing bowl to cool.
- To make the quick pickled red onions, place the sliced onions in a heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan bring the vinegar (½ cup), water (¾ cup), sugar (2 teaspoons) and salt (½ teaspoon) to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot liquid over the onions and let them steep and cool for 15-20 minutes. Drain them and add to the bowl with the quinoa. These can be made up to two weeks ahead and refrigerated until ready to use. Bring to room temp before using.
- In a large bowl, toss the asparagus, broccolini, carrots and zucchini, with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread them out in a single layer on two baking sheets. Sprinkle them with salt (2 teaspoons) and pepper, to taste. Roast in the top and bottom shelves of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender but still retaining some of their crunch, switching the position of the trays after 15 minutes.
- To assemble the salad, add the sliced olives, chopped arugula and vinaigrette to the bowl with the quinoa and onions. Toss to coat. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Add the roasted vegetables and toss again. Transfer the salad to a platter and top with feta. Serve warm or at room temperature.
MAKE IT DAIRY FREE/VEGAN: Omit the feta. Still delicious! Garnish with lemon zest or whole green olives, if you like.
SUBSTITUTIONS: If you can't find baby carrots, you can use regular carrots but look for slim ones. If they're fatter than ½-inch in diameter, slice them in half lengthwise so they cook through in the same amount of time as the other vegetables.
Prep Ahead Strategies: Cook the quinoa up to a day ahead and store in the fridge, covered. Bring to room temp before using. Prepare the pickled red onions up to two weeks ahead and store, covered in the fridge. Bring to room temp before using.
- Prep Time: 25 min
- Cook Time: 25 min
- Category: Side dish, Salad
- Method: oven
- Cuisine: Mediterannean
Keywords: quinoa salad with vegetables, quinoa with roasted vegetables and feta
I love feta and quinoa! I made this as a side dish for a holiday dinner party with vegetarian guests. For the main course I did homemade veggie burgers. Everyone loved it!