With a handful of simple, nutritious ingredients, you can mix up this fresh Mediterranean Quinoa Salad to have on hand for lunches or weeknight dinners for yourself—or to serve deconstructed for the kids. It even stores well in the fridge for up to 5 days.

mediterranean quinoa salad on two plates with strawberries

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

I love a good quinoa salad and I particularly love how easy they are to make ahead of time and grab whenever I need a fast meal for myself. This version, which features tender quinoa, crunchy cucumbers and shredded carrots, protein (and fiber!) packed beans, and creamy cheese, is a perfect mix of textures and nutrition.

And, the zippy lemon-based dressing gives it a Mediterranean flavor that’s both subtle and satisfying.

TIP: I mainly make this for myself since mama needs to eat well too, but you can separate out some of the components to serve as an easy kids meal too if they aren’t yet into grain salads.

Make-Ahead Grain Salad

When I need to feed myself easy, yet satisfying lunches during the week, grain salads are one of my go-tos. And while my kids don’t always like to eat all of the components mixed together—well my toddler is actually on board, but my oldest would prefer ingredients to be separated out—this is the type of a dish that I make with myself in mind.

I love that I can make this quinoa bowl ahead of time and pull it out of the fridge during a busy work day and it’s ready to go. That ensures that I’ll feed myself well, no matter what else might be going on.

ingredients in quinoa salad

Ingredients You Need

For this recipe you’ll need these ingredients:

  • Quinoa: I cook it ahead of time so it’s cooled and ready to mix together with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Chickpeas: Sometimes called “garbanzo” beans, I use canned since it’s easy, but you can also cook them from dry and measure out what you need.
  • Cucumber: Any variety will work, though English cucumbers are nice since they have less seeds.
  • Shredded carrots: Either shredded carrots from the store or a whole carrot you shred on a box grater will work.
  • Crumbled feta cheese: This adds a lot of flavor, so I recommend using it. You could also do crumbled goat cheese or another diced cheese if you prefer.
  • Roasted sunflower seeds: I usually use salted, but unsalted works too.
  • Lemon vinaigrette: My recipe uses fresh lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and some oregano for bright flavor.

TIP: You could easily trade in another type of beans, such as white beans, or a different cheese, like shredded cheddar or crumbled goat cheese, depending on your preference or what the kids like.

how to make quinoa salad step by step process

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the simple process involved in making this recipe. Scroll down to the end of this post for the full information.

  1. Prepare quinoa according to the package directions. Let cool slightly or fully. You can do this step up to a day ahead.
  2. Mix together the dressing in a small bowl.
  3. Mix together the quinoa, chickpeas, cucumber, carrot, feta, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.
  4. Toss the dressing into the salad and mix thoroughly.

TIP: You can serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this quinoa salad with chicken?

Of course! You can add in fully cooked diced or shredded chicken to the salad, either tossed in or layered on top. For that matter, you could also add thinly sliced steak, shrimp, or even cubes of tofu as additional extra sources of protein.

(The beans do provide vegetarian protein so keep that in mind if that’s your goal with adding chicken!)

Is quinoa salad eaten hot or cold?

We like this quinoa salad cold or room temperature, so sort of the same way you’d eat a pasta salad.

What goes well with a quinoa salad?

I like to have it with plantain chips or whole grain crackers and some fruit. You could also serve it over a bed of lettuce or pair it with a smoothie for a child.

How to Store

Once mixed, you can store this quinoa salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The flavors continue to meld as it sits, yet the components stay crisp, so it’s just as good on day 5 as on the first day! You could even portion it out into single serving containers if that makes feeing yourself lunch easier.

TIP: The dressing is made with lemon juice, olive oil, and Dijon mustard and is simple and adds more flavor as the salad sits in the fridge.

quinoa salad on kids plate with crackers

Best Tips for Success

  • Add strawberries, blueberries or sliced apples or pears to this salad if serving to kids if you think they might need more enticement to try it.
  • Serve the different ingredients next to each other if your kids prefer their food side-by-side.
  • Toss the salad well to ensure that the dressing coats the ingredients well.
  • Season to taste with salt to ensure that it’s the right level for your own particular taste buds.
  • You may also like How to Make Kids Salad, Quinoa and Squash, Quinoa Patties, Quinoa Cereal, and Veggie Nuggets.

I’d love to hear your feedback if you try this recipe, so comment below to share!

This post was first published August 2020.

mediterranean quinoa salad on two plates

Easy Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Mix up this grain salad to have lunches prepped for the week for yourself, or to have a dinner side or vegetarian main dish to share with the family.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Cuisine Italian
Course Salad
Calories 350kcal
Servings 6

Ingredients

Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups fully cooked quinoa
  • 14.5 ounce can chickpeas
  • 1 cup cucumber, diced (from about 1 medium cucumber)
  • ½ cup shredded carrot (from about 1 medium carrot)
  • ½ cup crumbled feta (or diced mozzarella or cheddar)
  • ¼ cup roasted sunflower seeds

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 fresh lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (from 1 fresh lemon)
  • cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  • Prepare quinoa according to the package directions. (It’s usually a 2:1 water to quinoa ratio.) Let cool slightly or fully. You can do this step up to a day ahead.
  • Mix together the quinoa, chickpeas, cucumber, carrot, feta, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.
  • To make the dressing, stir together the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, Dijon, oregano (if using), salt, and pepper. Toss into the salad and mix thoroughly. Serve or store for later.

Notes

  • Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Add strawberries, blueberries or sliced apples or pears to this salad if serving to kids if you think they might need more enticement to try it.
  • Serve the different ingredients next to each other if your kids prefer their food side-by-side.
  • Toss the salad well to ensure that the dressing coats the ingredients well.
  • Season to taste with salt to ensure that it’s the right level for your own particular taste buds.

Nutrition

Calories: 350kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 11mg, Sodium: 500mg, Potassium: 370mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 1872IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 118mg, Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Used several small cucumbers chopped up. 2 tomatoes diced up. Half bag baby carrots in the food processor. Turned out so yummy!!

  2. 5 stars
    Made this for easy weekday lunches and even my husband (who hates veggies and quinoa) loved it- will definitely make again and change up for the seasons!