Not Recipes

How to Make Quinoa Salad Without A Recipe

By • September 2, 2013 • 25 Comments

657 Save

Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: How to make any quinoa salad, using whatever ingredients you like, in 5 steps flat.

How to Make Quinoa Salad Without a Recipe on Food52

This is my secret weapon for never, ever eating a boring or otherwise unsatisfying lunch. I practically live on this.

Quinoa prepared this way also provides the launch pad for casual dinner party sides that your guests will adore. For easy weeknight dinners, we like this with just a few chopped tomatoes stirred in, along with a handful of arugula -- used as an herb, really -- to serve with grilled meats, shrimp and sausages. 

How to Make Quinoa Salad Without A Recipe

1. Wash the quinoa thoroughly under cold, running filtered water for about a minute. This gets rid of the bitter taste some quinoa otherwise will have. Black, red, or white quinoa will all work.

How to Make Quinoa Salad Without a Recipe on Food52

2. Put the quinoa into a heavy saucepan with twice its volume of water or stock -- I use a fragrant corn stock made from the inside husks of recently picked summer corn for this -- along with a crushed, but intact, clove of garlic, and a good pinch of salt. Give it a good stir.

3. Bring to a boil; then, reduce to a low boil and let it cook for about 15 minutes, or until all the water or stock is absorbed, and the little white rings on the quinoa have popped up.


4. While the quinoa is still hot, fish out the garlic clove, and immediately stir in any finely chopped alliums you want to mellow. One scallion per quarter cup of dry quinoa works well. You can also finely chop the cooked garlic and throw it back in, but that’s optional. Add a couple generous splashes of vinegar -- I use about a tablespoon of vinegar for every quarter cup of dry quinoa but then, I really like vinegar -- and fluff up the quinoa with a fork. Taste it, and add more salt if necessary.

5. Let the quinoa sit, covered, until cool and then, stir in a few tablespoons of finely chopped herbs. (We like parsley or cilantro, or both.) Follow that with a generous drizzle of the tastiest extra virgin olive oil you own, and a few grindings of nice black pepper. Taste just before serving, and add more vinegar, too, if it's not quite bright enough. This keeps for about four days in the fridge.

This tastes delicious as is, but also provides the perfect blank canvas for a side or main dish salad. Stir in any combination of the following: chopped roasted or grilled vegetables, corn kernels (either raw or cooked), chopped cherry or heirloom tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, avocado or peppers, or marinated vegetables or olives.

A handful of toasted pine nuts or pepitas, or a small chunk of feta or blue, crumbled, goes well. Add whatever other chopped fresh herbs or acids, e.g., lemon or lime juice or sherry vinegar, strike your fancy. Have some leftover grilled shrimp, fish, or chicken? Cut into bite-sized pieces and add that, too, if you like. The possibilities are endless.

More: For more ideas, browse the entries for Your Best Quinoa Recipe!

Still looking for a recipe? Here are some for inspiration:

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: quinoa, salad, how to, how-to & diy

Comments (25)


1 day ago MelissaJC1

I am currently working on research paper and part of the curriculum involves this subject matter. Do you have any other posts I can look at regarding this?
Daniel Olson


3 days ago doncheto

La cocina es algo que se debe respetar, soy un especalista en recetas de cremas y pescados. Las cuego cada semana en video streaming para que podais tomar nota en restaurantes Barcelona


6 days ago SoniaJR1s

There are a lot of blogs and articles out there on this topic, but you have captured another side of the subject. This is good content thank you for sharing it.
instant instagram followers


9 days ago GeorgeJFr1s

I have been searching about this topic and decided to do some research. Your article has some useful information. Do you have any more on this subject?
Alexandria Virginia dentist


9 days ago JulieJRoo1s

I am researching this topic for use in a future business I am thinking about starting. Thank you for this information, it has been educational and helpful to me.
cooking class staten island


19 days ago VivianJF1s

Your post is very exciting and informative. I am planning to decide on a career move and this has helped me with one aspect. Thanks man!
free proxy online


26 days ago BettyRM

This post is helpful with an analysis I am doing for a specific group of people. Do you have any other articles to suggest on this topic? Thanks
Association Management


29 days ago BridgetP8

This subject has interested me for quite some time. I have just started researching it on the Internet and found your post to be informative. Thanks
Seating Wedges amp Position Aids


about 1 month ago WadeAW1s

I am exploring this subject as part of a report I need to do on possible careers I might choose. Thank you for your post it has valuable information on this topic.
ariano reppucci


about 1 month ago JasonF2s

I have been researching this subject for a few days now for a report I am writing. Your post has been very helpful in this regard. Thanks for another great post.
cosmetic dentist NYC


2 months ago Ruth McAllister

Sarah, try using apple cider vinegar.


2 months ago Sarah

Thanks, Ruth! I even have that one in my kitchen already. :)


2 months ago Sarah

What kinds of vinegar do you use? I'm a pretty novice cook and not sure what would work best.


6 months ago Alice Gardner

Grain salads are great, but quinoa provides the extra protein I need to make it a whole meal. The best thing is that it can be hot or cold, whichever tickles your fancy. I like mine with lemon juice, olive oil green onion and feta- both warm and cold.


6 months ago stitchinfox

I make a cup of Quinoa weekly and have it ready to go in my refrig. I nuke it to heat it and add arugula or any green, avocado, goat cheese, green onions, grape tomatoes, left over cooked veggies or fruit(raspberries, grapes, apple, pear)or nuts. Then I splash it with avocado oil and white balsamic vinegar or Lemon Honey or...The possibilities are totally endless...I eat it for breakfast as a hot cereal...Love, love, love it!!!


7 months ago Susan

I also use QUINOA as an extender for meat sauces and for taco meat! The family cannot tell the difference in taste but can tell by the look of the little tails! I now use 1/2 pound of ground beef and 1 or 2 cups of prepared QUINOA! I believe that I can continue to minimize the portion of meat and add even more QUINOA! HEY! Even my 18 year old grandson loves it!


7 months ago Susan

I put leftover QUINOA, fresh or leftover sauteed veggies such as onions, peppers, broccoli, etc., into a low carb tortilla shell that I have spread with hummus, dijon mustard, and nuts and/or seeds or both! Makes for a quick, filling, and nutritious meal! I love the nutty taste of QUINOA and the protein and nutritional value!


7 months ago CottageGourmet

We eat a lot of quinoa and consider it as you do, a blank canvas -- but this puts everything into a really pretty frame. Thank you!


7 months ago phyllis

I'm trying to lose 10 pounds and, for me, lunch is the hardest to control, so I boil up a pot of Quinoa, bulgar or faro put in the refrigerator and add chopped up raw vegetables for a delicious healthy lunch. Thanks for sharing this.


7 months ago Ruth McAllister

It's also really delicious with cooked green lentils, lemon juice and curry paste or powder. Thanks for posting.


7 months ago harriet

Quinoa, like bulgar, has so many variations. I usually add chopped tomatoes, thinly sliced radishes, cukes (any kind), chopped garlic, celery, lime juice, kosher salt, olive oil. Mix it up the day before, and when ready to serve, taste and add more kosher salt and/or juice and olive oil.