Monday, February 13, 2012

Mediterranean Red Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing

After this morning's admittedly lame-o (yet delicious) breakfast post, I owe you guys.

Well, I'm here to tell you that this recipe more than makes up for it.

If you make one of my recipes, I hope it will be this one.  Not only was it one of the most delicious dinners I've had in a while but it was one of the healthiest and one that Brian and I really felt good about eating.

Loaded with protein (quinoa, beans, chicken), fiber (quinoa and beans), healthy fats (tahini, extra virgin olive oil) and vitamins/minerals from the vegetables, this was a super nutritionally-complete meal.

The chicken is completely optional so this recipe is vegetarian-friendly, vegan-friendly (and gluten-free!).  We were eating this salad for dinner after eating a rather light lunch earlier in the day so chicken seemed like a good addition.  There's no recipe for the chicken, I just sliced some boneless skinless chicken breasts thin, dusted them with a chicken spice rub and sauteed them in a little extra virgin olive oil.  Then cut them up and topped the salad with it.  That being said, the quinoa salad would be just as delicious without it for a vegetarian meal.

If you're preparing the salad ahead of time to serve later, I would recommend reserving some of the lemon-tahini dressing to mix in right before serving, as the quinoa will absorb it in the refrigerator.  Likewise, don't add the mixed greens until serving, as they will wilt in the dressing over time.

I hope you'll love it as much as we did.

Mediterranean Red Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing
serves 4 as a main course


1 garlic clove, microplaned or very finely minced
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey (substitute 1 tablespoon agave or maple syrup for vegans)
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons hot water
1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the dressing:  Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, whisking well to emulsify everything together.  Set aside while you cook quinoa.


1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and well drained (you can substitute regular quinoa, if you wish)
1 1/2 cups water
1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise then chopped
2 tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and chopped
1/4 cup sliced black Kalamata olives
1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans/chickpeas (drained and rinsed if using canned)
1/4 cup parsley or mint, chopped
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (omit for vegans)
salt and pepper, to taste
8 cups organic mixed salad greens (about 2 cups greens per person if this is the main course)
sliced almonds or toasted pine nuts (optional)
cooked chicken breast, chopped (optional, omit for vegetarians and vegans)

Bring quinoa to a boil in the water, cover with the lid and lower heat to a simmer.  Cook quinoa 15 minutes or until water is completely absorbed and fully cooked (the little white curlicue will be apparent when it's done).  Fluff with a fork, then set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare vegetables and dressing as described above.

Once the quinoa has cooled, transfer it to a large mixing bowl.  Pour on the lemon-tahini dressing, reserving about a quarter of it if preparing the salad ahead of time, and toss well to combine.  Add the chopped cucumber, tomato, onion, olives, chickpeas, parsley (or mint) and feta cheese to the quinoa, toss well to combine.  Adjust salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve quinoa salad on top of a bed of mixed salad greens and top with the sliced almonds or pine nuts, and the cooked, chopped chicken breast, if using.  

The nuts didn't make it into the pictures - oops!



  1. Yep. That makes up for the lame-o post ;) I will have to try that!

    1. I hope you like it, maybe you could even get Finn to try it ;-)

  2. Looks great, I have tahini to spare and who doesn't love another use for quinoa?! Awesome close up pics, please invent the scratch and sniff app. Mahalo.

    1. Can't wait until scratch 'n' sniff computers are invented. I'll be first in line :-)

  3. Greetings from Canada! I tried this recipe tonight and it was filling, delicious and totally hit the spot. Thanks and keep 'em coming!

    1. Thanks for visiting and glad you enjoyed it! I have an endless list of ideas for quinoa and grain salads so make sure to check back again soon!


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