When I told my husband I was making Quinoa for dinner, the look on his face was someone who was not too thrilled. He’s always a good sport about trying new things, but he tried Quinoa about five years ago and absolutely hated it. He associates it with “health food” and not a food to actually enjoy.
But … to his surprise, he said he not only liked this dish, but even requested I make it again. And my 12-year-old daughter agreed! WHAT?! Any whole grain dish that wins the approval of a picky tween and a meat-loving man is a winner.
What makes this dish so delicious? It’s the combination of red onion, fresh herbs, and the lemon juice that really makes this work. So if you’ve got some extra tomatoes and herbs from your summer garden, give this easy recipe a try.
- Any color of Quinoa: Quinoa can come in variety of colors, but I’m using white Quinoa this time from Trader Joe’s. Any color will work!
- Chicken broth: I am using bone broth from a whole chicken I cooked a few days ago, but I have also used “Better than Bullion” or a carton of bone broth before with success. You can also use vegetable or beef broth too
- Grape tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes would work as well as diced Roma or larger tomatoes, although this will make the salad a bit “wetter” and will lose the firmness of the smaller grape or cherry tomato
- Purple onion: I am showing two in the photo above, but ended up only needing one. These are pretty small because they were grown by my in-laws. You’ll need only 1/2 of a typical store-bough red onion
- Lemon: Try to use juice from a real lemon if you can, but store-bought lemon juice will work also
- Garlic: I was out of garlic so I used some from the grocery store. Either works!
- Fresh herbs: I used basil and mint, but you can also use cilantro too
What can Quinoa be paired with?
This quinoa salad with cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs is incredibly versatile and pairs well with a variety of dishes.
- Any protein: If you’re looking to make it part of a bigger meal, consider serving it alongside grilled chicken, air fried oat-crusted chicken cutlets, fish, or a plant-based protein like tofu or tempeh
- Veggies: Make it a vegetarian meal, complementing Mediterranean or Middle Eastern dishes like hummus, pita bread, or grilled vegetables
- Sandwiches or wraps: Pair this Quinoa with your favorite turkey, ham, or chicken sandwich for a cool summer meal
Frequently asked questions
Is there anything I can substitute for tomatoes?
I think any “summer” veggie can work in this dish. The first that comes to mind is cucumber, although I think zucchini would work as well. I would not cut the lemon or onion, as both of those really make this work with the mild flavor of Quinoa.
How long will Quinoa salad last in the fridge?
Your quinoa salad should keep well in the fridge for up to 3-5 days when stored in an airtight container. If you’ve dressed the salad, the herbs and tomatoes may become a bit softer over time, but the flavors will still be good. If you plan on storing it for an extended period, you might consider storing the dressing separately and adding it just before serving to maintain the salad’s freshness and texture.
Can I substitute dried herbs for the fresh herbs?
While fresh herbs really add to the flavor (my husband loved the use of mint in this), you can absolutely use dried herbs if you don’t have fresh. As a general rule, dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor, so you’ll need to adjust the quantity. Typically, you can use a third of the amount of dried herbs as you would fresh.
Quinoa salad with cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs recipe
- 1 Fine mesh strainer
- 1 Medium saucepan
- 1 Large bowl
- 1 Small bowl
- 1 Whisk
- 1 cup Quinoa (any color)
- 2 cups Chicken broth (sub for vegetable broth, beef broth, or water)
- 1 cup Grape or cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup Basil
- 1/4 cup Parsley
- 1/4 cup Mint
- 1/4 cup Red onion
- 1/4 cup Feta cheese (optional)
- 2 tbsp Olive oil (extra virgin)
- 1 Juice of lemon
- 1 Garlic clove
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 Roasted nuts (pine nuts or almonds)
Cook the Quinoa
- Rinse the Quinoa under cold water using a fine-mesh strainer.
- In a medium saucepan, bring water or vegetable broth to a boil. Add the Quinoa and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the Quinoa has absorbed the liquid and is tender.
- Remove from heat and let it stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
Prepare the dressing
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to your preference.
Assemble the salad
- Once the Quinoa has cooled, add the grape or cherry tomatoes (cut in half), fresh herbs (finely chopped), red onion (finely chopped), and feta cheese (if using–I did not use it this time) to the bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine.
Garnish and serve
- Top with almonds or pine nuts if you would like (I didn't use them this time). Serve immediately or store in the fridge for an hour to let the flavors meld.