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Anyone who has ever thought salad was boring hasn't tried this summer quinoa salad! It's jammed with flavor, from the sweet cherries, toasted almonds, feta cheese, and summer-fresh herbs. This salad is perfect for a summer evening on the patio or for anyone clinging to those cherished last moments and flavors of the season.
The beauty of this summer quinoa salad is in the fact that you could eat this as whole, balanced meal. It's chock-full of nutrients and packed with flavor, making it perfect for a light summer dinner and the ultimate candidate for meal prepping.
For more ideas about what to make with quinoa, check out this list of quinoa recipes from our friend Ayshegul of Foolproof Living. She's got some great ideas!
Also, when the weather turns cooler and you're looking for another seasonal take on a quinoa salad, try this autumn quinoa salad.
Ingredients to make a summer quinoa salad
To make this summer quinoa salad, add these ingredients to your grocery list the next time you head out:
For the salad:
- Uncooked quinoa: You'll need 1 cup of uncooked quinoa. You'll cook and cool the quinoa before using it.
- Cherries: Add 1 cup of pitted and quartered cherries. There's a reason why this is a summer quinoa salad, and part of that's the inclusion of summer's best produce, like cherries!
- Crumbled feta: A good ¼ cup of feta cheese will add a salty, tang to the salad. You can use another cheese if preferred, like goat cheese or halloumi for similar texture and salt-kick.
- Dry roasted almonds: ½ cup of chopped, roasted almonds will give you a crunch and a nice change up in texture. You can use another type of nut in a pinch, but it's best to use a roasted variety.
- Herbs: Be generous with the chopped basil, mint, and dill. Go for ¼ cup of each for a big herbaceous pop.
For the lemon vinaigrette:
- Juice from 2 large lemons: Mmm! So lemony! So citrusy and tart!
- White vinegar: Because the lemon juice will add a lot of acid, you can use just a tablespoon of white vinegar.
- Olive oil: To balance your lemon juice and white vinegar, add ¼ cup of olive oil to the vinaigrette.
- Dijon mustard: Zipa-a-dee-doo-dah! Dijon mustard will give some warmth and sharpness to the dressing.
- Garlic: You'll need one clove of garlic. The key is to make sure it's very finely minced, otherwise it'll be too much if you get a bite of raw garlic.
- Sea salt: Add ½ teaspoon of sea salt to the dressing. That may seem like a lot, however, it's the only salt in the entire dish. This amount of salt will nicely coat everything in your salad.
- Cayenne: Just a pinch will do!
Don't be afraid to substitute or add as you please; this summer quinoa salad is so tasty as it is, but is also versatile and there's always room for your favorite veg or protein.
How to make perfectly fluffy quinoa
Cooking quinoa doesn't have to be a guessing game. You can have tender, fluffy quinoa every time using this method:
- Water to quinoa ratio: This part's important. You want to have a a ratio of 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups of water. You can also choose to substitute broth/bone broth for more flavor and nutrients instead of the water.
- Boil: Bring the pot to a simmering boil.
- Cover: Cover with a tight lid and reduce the heat to low.
- Cook: Let it cook for 12-15 minutes. If you're nervous about it sticking to the bottom of the pot, you can occasionally check on it and give it a stir.
- Fluff: Take it off the heat and fluff it with a fork to help it separate a bit.
What to serve with quinoa summer salad
Serving this salad as a side dish? Here are some ideas for dishes that will complement this quinoa summer salad recipe:
Starch: The quinoa has a starchy feel to it, so perhaps you don't need to serve another one alongside it. That said, if you're craving some carbs, try this no yeast bread with herbs and cheese or some sweet potato fritters.
I don't have cherries, what can I use instead?
If you don't have access to cherries, you can swap them for berries. Blueberries or sliced strawberries would also go nicely in this salad.
Is quinoa gluten-free?
It sure is! This is an excellent dish to serve to friends or family who may have a gluten intolerance.
How long will quinoa salad last in the fridge?
This quinoa salad recipe has lots of fresh ingredients in it, so if you store it in an airtight container it will last in the fridge for 3-4 days before starting to lose some of its integrity.
Summer Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup cherries (pitted and quartered)
- ¼ cup crumbled feta
- ½ cup dry roasted almonds (chopped)
- ¼ cup EACH: chopped basil, mint, and dill
- juice from 2 large lemons
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic (very finely minced)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt (see notes)
- A pinch of cayenne
- Place the quinoa in a small pot and add 2 cups of water. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 12-15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, fluff the quinoa with a fork, and set it aside with the lid off to cool.1 cup uncooked quinoa
- While the quinoa is cooking, pit the cherries, chop (and toast, if needed) the almonds, and chop the herbs.1 cup cherries, ½ cup dry roasted almonds, ¼ cup EACH: chopped basil, mint, and dill
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk all of the salad dressing ingredients.juice from 2 large lemons, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil, ½ tablespoon dijon mustard, 1 clove garlic, A pinch of cayenne, ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Once the quinoa is room temperature, transfer it to a serving bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl and pour the lemony dressing over the top. Toss well then serve.¼ cup crumbled feta
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.