Filled with grilled vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and feta, this Mediterranean quinoa salad with lemon basil dressing is flavourful, vegetarian and gluten-free. This is a great quinoa meal prep recipe that can be made ahead of time. Vegan-friendly and low-carb with a slight modification.
MEDITERRANEAN QUINOA SALAD OVERVIEW
What I love about this quinoa salad is the combination of cooked and raw ingredients such as grilled vegetables and quinoa with fresh cherry tomatoes and freshly made lemon basil vinaigrette. It’s a lovely way to play with textures.
I am also a big fan of Mediterranean and Greek flavours of herbs, lemon, olive oil, olives and salty feta. Mixing in cooked quinoa makes this salad more substantial and adds extra fibre, protein and carbs.
You can prepare all of the elements separately and mix the salad just before serving. It can be tossed through or you can arrange things in little sections on a big platter. I also store leftovers in Tupperware containers to make quinoa meal prep bowls for lunches.
Quinoa: You can use white or red quinoa in this salad. I cooked up the tri-colour quinoa, which I think looks quite fun. Quinoa can be prepared ahead of time; you can even thaw out frozen cooked quinoa or use those 2-minute quinoa packets to save on cooking time. Quinoa is a great source of plant-based protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates.
Can you freeze cooked quinoa?
Yes, you can definitely freeze cooked quinoa. Let the cooked quinoa cool down completely, then transfer it to a resealable plastic bag. Press all the air out before sealing, then pat the quinoa into an even layer before freezing. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator! You can also just freeze it in an airtight, freezer-safe container too. Store for up to 3 months.
Grilled vegetables: Zucchini, red capsicum (bell pepper) and red onions can be pan-fried or grilled on a barbecue. You can also roast these vegetables or use an air fryer. Grilling or pan-frying brings out the flavour and sweetness in the vegetables and makes them a little easier to digest too. I just love the flavour.
Flavours: Adding lots of those classic Mediterranean flavours with ingredients like olives, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, feta and fresh tomatoes.
Put your own spin on it: You can improvise here with whatever you have on hand really. Shaved parmesan can be used instead of feta or you can keep it dairy-free if you like. You can also add things like roasted or grilled eggplant, fennel, asparagus, green beans, capers, spinach and so on.
Here is what you will need to make the lemon basil vinaigrette to mix into the salad and to drizzle over the top. It’s pretty simple but results in a super fresh, tangy, zesty delicious dressing.
You will need good quality extra-virgin olive oil, lemon (for zest and juice), fresh basil and a little salt. That’s it!
I always make a slightly larger batch and store leftovers in the fridge in a jar for other uses. You can mix it into mayonnaise or yoghurt for a creamy dressing, drizzle it over grilled fish or meat, mix it into pasta and so on.
Step 1. Cook the quinoa unless using pre-cooked grain. Add 1.25 cups of quinoa and 2.5 cups of cold water to a pot, mix in 2/3 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, covered with a lid. Stir halfway.
Once done, leave the lid on for 10 minutes for the excess liquid to absorb. Then fluff the quinoa with a fork and let it cool.
Step 2. In a large frying pan, heat a splash of olive oil. Pan-fry, grill the zucchini and onions over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate.
Step 3. Add a little more oil if needed and pan-fry the red capsicum/bell pepper for 2-3 minutes on each side as well. Set aside.
Step 4. While quinoa is cooking, make the salad dressing. Combine the lemon basil dressing ingredients in a jug or a bowl and puree with an immersion blender or use a food processor/standing blender. If you don’t have anything to blend with, simply chop the basil very finely with a knife and mix the dressing by hand.
Step 5. Prepare other salad ingredients. Combine cooked quinoa with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, minced garlic and a few tablespoons of the lemon basil dressing.
Step 6. Top the quinoa salad with grilled vegetables, cherry tomatoes and feta and drizzle with extra dressing. You can add a few extra basil leaves and olives on top.
This Mediterranean quinoa salad is perfect for lunch meal prep. I recommend packing the salad as separate elements into the container without mixing it too much. This will keep everything a little fresher and maintain the texture better. Drizzle the dressing on top or store it in separate small containers, which will keep your salad fresher even longer.
Store quinoa salad this way for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
This quinoa salad is vegetarian, gluten-free and can be made 100% plant-based by omitting the feta or using a dairy-free alternative. It’s nutrient-dense with lots of protein and fibre and a good source of complex carbohydrates.
It’s not low-carb but the amount of protein, fibre and healthy fats make this quinoa salad pretty diabetic friendly and will keep your blood sugars fairly stable. It’s high in many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Here are the nutrition macros: 444 calories, 40 g total carbs, 7.5 g fibre (32.5 g net carbs), 10.5 g protein, 28 g fat.
Modifications: This is a vegetarian and gluten-free dish but you can omit the feta and turn it into a vegan recipe, or replace quinoa with cauliflower rice or grilled chicken or fish to make it low-carb.
MORE HEALTHY QUINOA RECIPES
- Quinoa Falafels With Israeli Salad
- Chicken Quinoa Salad With Honey Harissa & Tahini Yoghurt
- Quinoa Flour Banana Bread
- Roasted Quinoa Salad With Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts
- Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (Gluten-free)
Find the full list of ingredients, instructions and extra cooking notes below. If you have questions or cook this recipe, please let me know in the comments and make sure to rate this recipe so it’s easy for others to find.
Healthy, delicious Mediterranean quinoa salad with grilled vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and feta. Drizzled with zesty and tangy lemon basil dressing, this salad is satiating and full of flavour. Serve right away or make it as part of meal prep.
1.25 cups uncooked quinoa (or 3 cups pre-cooked quinoa)
2.5 cups water
2/3 teaspoon salt
For grilled vegetables
2-3 tablespoons olive oil for grilling vegetables
1 large zucchini, halved lengthways and then sliced
1 large red capsicum (bell pepper), cut into squares
1 red onion, sliced
A little salt to season vegetables
For lemon basil vinaigrette
1 cup loose basil leaves
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the rest of the quinoa salad
1 punnet cherry tomatoes (1 cup halved cherries)
1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I use those in olive oil)
1/3 cup sliced Kalamata or other black olives
1 large clove of garlic, finely diced or minced
1/3 cup feta cheese (about 50-70 grams / 2 oz)
1/2 tsp black pepper
- Cook the quinoa: Add 1.25 cups of quinoa and 2.5 cups of cold water to a pot, mix in 2/3 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, covered with a lid. Stir halfway.
- Once done, leave the lid on for 10 minutes for the excess liquid to absorb. Then fluff the quinoa with a fork and let it cool.
- In a large frying pan, heat a splash of olive oil. Pan-fry, grill the zucchini and onions over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate.
- Add a little more oil if needed and pan-fry the red capsicum/bell pepper for 2-3 minutes on each side as well. Set aside.
- While quinoa is cooking and vegetables are frying, prepare the other salad ingredients and make the dressing.
- Combine the lemon basil dressing ingredients in a jug or a bowl and puree with an immersion blender or use a food processor/standing blender. If you don’t have anything to blend with, simply chop the basil very finely with a knife and mix the dressing by hand.
- Add the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and some of the dressing to the quinoa and mix through. Top with the grilled vegetables, cherry tomatoes, feta and drizzle with the remaining dressing.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the salad
- Calories: 445
- Sugar: 8.2 g
- Sodium: 509.4 mg
- Fat: 28.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 41.6 g
- Fiber: 7.2 g
- Protein: 10.4 g
- Cholesterol: 11.1 mg
Keywords: Quinoa Salad, Greek, Basil, Lemon, Grilled Vegetables, Quinoa Recipes, Lemon Basil Dressing